Cloud Computing – Not Really All That New
Defined Cloud Computing: I recently read a White Paper published by HP, about cloud computing. In the article the Cloud was defined as:
“As a practical baseline for our discussion, we cite the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition of cloud computing published October 7, 2009: Cloud computing 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.”
Cloud computing is THE hot topic these days. But I really don’t believe it’s all that new. It just wasn’t called “Cloud”. Back in the day (1980’s), I was a Customer Engineer for HP - going on site to install, troubleshoot and repair HP computing hardware. I had several customers who had large installations of computers – the first HP3000 models. They were big boxes, racked and hardwired together with “polling” wires. Real-to-reel tape drives handled the backup of 20 whole mb of clothes-washer sized disc. Memory was on the low side back then too, 128mb of memory was quite a bit then.
Anyway, these companies were service providers. I don’t think we called them that back then, but that’s what they did – they supplied computer power to businesses that did not have a computer or staff of their own. One of my favorites was located in a strip mall next to a bowling alley with literally 100’s of thousands of dollars’ worth of gear stuffed in a back room. The end-users didn’t own the computer, or worry about upgrades, or downtime, or a maintaining a data center, or power or cooling, or hiring people to care and feed the system. They just requested a report and out if popped, either locally printed or delivered in the mail! Sound familiar, kind of like services delivered via the Cloud?
I know I’ve simplified it some, but I think the premise is the same – Cloud computing delivers services when you need them, provisioned quick and transparent to the end consumer, from a shared pool of resources. And in a public cloud the computer isn’t even owned by the end-user.
So, where did cloud computing come from?
This all started with main-frames even back before my time. Here’s another excerpt from that White Paper. Historically, the concepts behind cloud computing can be attributed to John McCarthy who in 1961 said, “If computers of the kind I have advocated become the computers of the future, then computing may someday be organized as a public utility just as the telephone system is a public utility.…The computer utility could become the basis of a new and important industry.”1
In 2008, Amy Schurr, in an article in Network World,2 cited Gartner research outlining the opportunity for cloud computing “to shape the relationship among consumers of IT services, those who use IT services, and those who sell them.” Ms. Schurr observed that “organizations are switching from company-owned hardware and software assets to per-use service models” and proposed that “[the] projected shift to cloud computing…will result in dramatic growth in IT products in some areas and significant reductions in other areas.”
So, concept of Cloud services is not so new. What is new is that pretty much everyone needs to know and understand it, and be ready to take advantage of the technology as it is offered today.