In this article we will look at the history of cloud hosting from its theoretical beginnings to the technology we know today.Posted on 23 February 2017 -
Cloud hosting made the breakthrough into the public consciousness around 2009. The launch of several cloud services aimed at consumers rather than the enterprise market gave “the cloud” a final shove into the spotlight. But it had been around much longer than that. In this article we will look at the history of cloud hosting.
Perhaps it is computer scientist John McCarthy who can lay claim to first publicly discussing the idea of cloud computing.
In 1961, the MIT research fellow gave a speech at that institution’s centennial celebrations in which he spoke of utility computing. He foresaw time-sharing of computer technology and computing power and applications being sold through a utility business model, like electricity.
If the cloud sounds like a lofty and futuristic place in which to store your data, it’s nothing compared to one proposed name when the idea of cloud technology was first being floated.
In 1969, J.C.R. Licklider - the first director of the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) at The Pentagon's ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) and the man behind the development of ARPANET - spoke of an "intergalactic computer network” that would allow anybody, anywhere to access programs and data stored at any site. You need only sign up for a Dropbox or Google Apps account to get that “intergalactic” feeling.
But it would be a while before Licklider’s idea came into practical use. Primitive networks that would evolve into the Internet emerged in the 1970s, but it would be a while before anything as slick as Licklider envisage came along because for a long time there simply wasn’t the necessary bandwidth to support cloud computing. However, the first examples of cloud computing do pre-date the dot-com bubble bursting.
The first recorded mention of the term cloud is in a 1996 business plan for Compaq. The document, which of course only became widely known about in more recent years, details how all business software would eventually move to the Internet and how “cloud computing-enabled applications” would become commonplace for services such as consumer file storage.
Salesforce.com was founded in 1999 and became arguably the first software as a service (SaaS) cloud business. It was the first time a company had made a viable business out of the sort of services McCarthy and Licklider had in mind by delivering its enterprise applications via a simple website. Since then, plenty of other firms have run with that model.
Undoubtedly, most of cloud computing’s development and growth has come since the turn of the millennium. Amazon Web Services brought cloud to a mass market when it launched in 2002. That provided a range of cloud storage and computing services that could be bought as easily as a book, a DVD or a CD (of course, the cloud would soon come to impact all of those markets).
In 2006, Amazon upped the game again with its Elastic Compute cloud (EC2), which allowed customers to rent computers on which to run their own applications and effectively created a widely accessible cloud computing infrastructure. It was also at this stage that the term cloud became the widely accepted term for the technology in question.
As we mentioned at the outset, the cloud really came into vocabulary of the wider public after 2009. A raft of Web 2.0 services that utilised cloud technology launched around that time. Google Apps, Dropbox and Apple’s iCloud have not only become widely used in business, but also brought cloud to most consumers.