A Brief History of Cloud Computing

Learn about the history of cloud computing.

The backdrop

In the early days of computing, we had big, expensive mainframe computers that took a lot of space and specialized knowledge to operate. With these big and expensive machines, the concept of time-sharing emerged. We would rent a time slot to run the calculations.

The advent of networked computers pushed this further and allowed people to access computers remotely and connect multiple users simultaneously. This paved the way for the Internet. Personal computers (PCs) made it possible for people to own computers and overtook mainframes as the most popular way to use computers.

Alongside these advancements, the concept of virtual machines that acts like a real computer with fully functional operating system gained popularity. Businesses started renting virtual machines and private networks to their clients. These advancements in Internet services and virtualization have led to the cloud computing model as we know it.

Coming back a full circle, with cloud computing, cloud providers manage and operate the infrastructure to run programs for us, and we pay for the use. The difference is that we have much more sophisticated technology and scale than what mainframes provided us. Current cloud platforms can serve a vast customer base and offer almost infinite resources to run global-scale businesses.

The driving force

With the World Wide Web, the Internet truly took off. In the 2000s, Internet-based start-ups were being set up left, right & center, and the adaptation went over the roof. Even with the bubble bursts of the 2000s, the Internet pushed the whole industry on an irreversible path, and many businesses were solving problems on the Internet. As companies started serving bigger audiences, they needed more extensive and better infrastructure to provide services to their consumers.

The scale brings challenges, and many businesses have much bigger infrastructure than they could utilize to its full capacity. Companies needed to simplify their infrastructure to focus on delivering value to their consumers. There was an untapped demand and potential problem to be solved.

Amazon Web Services

In 2006, Amazon, the world's largest book store at the time, took the industry by surprise by launching the platform to lend its overhead computational resources to the market. They launched AWS, which offers online services to other clients. Amazon S3 and EC2 were the earliest services that Amazon launched with AWS. Being the first mover, Amazon has had a significant impact in shaping the entire cloud computing industry as we know it and is still one of the leading cloud platforms in the market.

Historical background of cloud computing

After AWS, Google followed suit and launched their cloud computing platform, GCP, in 2008. Microsoft was the last to launch its cloud platform, Microsoft Azure, which was made available to the public in 2010. Besides these big companies, many other vendors are providing their cloud platforms in the market.

Cloud is thriving and has been on a tremendous growth trajectory since its inception. Every company is a software company now, and if it isn’t, it will be. Cloud computing is a $445 billion market projected to be $1614 billion by 2030. It has become the de facto standard for delivering software across the board. With the help of cloud computing technology, businesses are solving critical problems that would have taken much longer and more resources to solve.