Imagine the following scenario – you are using your computer and, from the hard drive, you hear an odd clicking sound. Suddenly, you realize that your HDD is on its last leg and if you do not transfer your files, documents, and precious photos quickly, there is a good chance that you could lose them. Thankfully, today’s word is helping to make this painful scenario a thing of the past.
20 years ago, if you asked most people, clouds were either wispy white/grey things in the sky or a jargon term for telecommunication connections. However, in the present day, the idea of a cloud is revolutionising how we work, play, and store our precious information.
According to the (U.S.) National Institute of Standards and Technology, a cloud is: “a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
To simplify, as long as you have a connection, you can access as much of the Internet as you want or need, anytime and anywhere.
And we are certainly accessing it. 2016 numbers indicate that the global cloud computing market grew 21% in 2015, totalling $110 billion. Demonstrating that large businesses are becoming more cloud aware, the number of businesses running over 1,000 virtual machines grew 4% to a total of 17% from 2015. Moreover, to indicate that the growth is still accelerating, a 2016 RightScale survey showed that 32% of businesses doubted that their IT departments were able to fully handle the growth in cloud computing, a year-over-year increase of 5%.
The first known reference to cloud computing comes from an internal document of the Compaq Computer Corp. (now a part of HP) in 1996, which simply states: “Cloud Computing: The Cloud has no Borders.”
Aside from this statement, the mention of the word in a 1997 issue of InfoWorld demonstrates just how much of a watershed moment the cloud created, stating that: “I’ve never been a bigot for everything in the cloud and I’m certainly not for putting everything on the desktop.”
As for how the term cloud originated in this application, we need to thank engineers: in their drawings, engineers typically portray a network as a bubbly, amorphous shape, resembling a cloud; therefore, transferring this from engineering to computing, the variable inputs became the Internet users, the network became the Internet, and the shape became a cloud.