Feet on the Ground: A Brief History of Cloud Computing


When people think about cloud computing, their thoughts are often drawn to Apple’s patented storage system. And who could blame them? The iCloud has become synonymous with storage software. Allowing users to upload music, photos and documents to an online server to share or retrieve data across devices was a game changer. Never again would overzealous users lose their spreadsheets to a temperamental auto save function.

The concept of a cyber storage device isn’t a new one, however. The thought process was introduced as far back as 1969 by famed computer scientist Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider. Or, as his friends referred to him, “Lick.” Revered by his peers as one of the most influential figures in computing history. Licklider pioneered the vision of a cloud system with his ARPANET interface.

The Advances Research Projects Agency Network was the groundbreaking predecessor of the internet. Back in those days, it was simply referred to as packet switching. Funded by the United States Department of Defense, the idea was to create an open sharing network. Before then, users were limited to a direct line; the same premise as telephone communications. His grand idea was to be known as an “Intergalactic Computer Network.” It was this basis that later laid the groundwork for what would become the internet we all know and love today.

Since then, cloud computing has evolved dramatically. Just like with the rest of our technological advances. As you might expect, with further enhanced means, what was once considered a pipe dream has become our reality. The implausible became the possible. It is these crucial developments that have allowed businesses to go from strength to strength. Utilizing the increasingly complex software available to us, life has been made infinitely easier. Following J. C. R. Licklider’s initial vision, here are some of the most important milestones in the history of cloud computing.

Early Origins

The formation of Salesforce in 1999 would ultimately go on to revolutionize the way we see the internet. And what’s more impressive is that these pioneering dreamers are just as relevant today. They made their name by keeping their fingers on the pulse of the endless possibilities that are opening up to us seemingly every year. They continue to offer new and innovative services even today.

Their initial vision was to produce an enterprising application. This model has since become known as “platform as a service.” It allows customers to easily develop web applications through their Salesforce Developer online certification. This means even those with no prior knowledge of application development can use their services.

Enter Amazon

Having already carved out their name as one of the juggernauts of the World Wide Web, Amazon saw an opening in the evolution of cloud storage. As we’ve grown accustomed to, they took the bull by the horns and entered the fray with their own offerings. The first of which, saw Amazon Web Services launch in 2006; a collection of remote services for computing.

Amazon Web Services formed part their venture into the world of cloud storage. A number of different services were launched, the Mechanical Turk perhaps being the most popular. Amazon branched out into this brave new world with their most recent venture, Amazon Prime. Like Netflix, Amazon Prime utilizes their own cloud system that allows for paid video streaming services. Their library is hosted by cloud-computing and allows users anywhere in the world to access it.

Web 2.0

Despite what the name suggests, Web 2.0 was not intended to be a standalone version of the World Wide Web. Rather, it acted as a complementary piece. The origin of the term is credited to Darcy DiNucci in 1999 but was popularized at a 2004 O’Reilly Media conference. The term describes the growing number of web pages on the internet that are dedicated to user-generated content.

Since the advent of the internet, the way we use and browse the web has evolved dramatically. The early origins of cloud-storage made it possible for users to upload and share data with others. It allows for the passive sharing of online content. The most popular of these sites early on were through file-sharing networks. However, it faced controversy from the music industry for illegal piracy.

Since then, the likes of Spotify and Netflix utilize cloud systems in order for its users to live stream music and video on any of their devices. Wikipedia remains one of the most popular user-generated sites. It allows its visitors to edit pages of their online encyclopedia with real time updating for others to see.

Safety First

The biggest fear for business leaders became the integrity of security within cloud computing. So many important documents are floating around cyberspace. As a result, the opportunity for hackers to retrieve them became of grave concern.

As a result, companies like Google and IBM put their focus on ensuring the safety of its users. eBay’s online payment service PayPal became a worry for its customers. As the service relied heavily on obtaining its users’ bank details, it presented an opportunity for internet fraud. Since then, important measures have been taken to improving the security of these systems.

The Wireless Internet

WiFi, as it became lovingly known as, forms a part in all of our daily lives. Especially for the busy executive on the move, access to the internet on the move has formed an essential aspect of industry. On the way to client meetings, users can connect wirelessly to internet hotspots in order to gain network access. From their cell phones and laptops, no less.

Roaming data was the original version of this concept, with mobile providers offering these hotspots. Companies have begun operating hotspots of their own on location as part of their services. The thought process is that more people will be enticed by having internet access.

It’s not clear what the future holds for cloud computing. But, with so many innovations that seemed impossible even ten years ago, who knows where developments will take us. One thing is for sure, cloud computing will long remain an important part in the operation of businesses.

Leave a Reply