It wasn’t too long ago that data was stored and shared on large, plastic floppy disks— disks that couldn’t hold all that much information. In fact, it took about 800 of them to hold a single gigabyte of storage. Since those days just a few decades ago, compact disks briefly took the stage, then USB drives. Now, technology has brought us further into a future we could have scarcely imagined back in floppy disk days. A future in the cloud.
Cloud Computing— A Technology that Drives the World
We may all know that the cloud is simply a global network of servers that acts as one enormous hard drive. This allows internet users worldwide to access general pools of data from anywhere at any time. People are able to store their data such as emails, files, and more on global servers as opposed to their own internal or external drives. Cloud environments can be public, private, or shared between certain groups. One thing you may not have known, however, is that the cloud is nothing new.
While ‘cloud computing’ remains one of the hottest buzzwords in technology, appearing billions of times on the internet, its origins can be traced back to the 1960s thanks to a man named Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider.
A Brief History
Before the internet existed, there was an active network known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). The ARPANET, established by the United States Department of Defense, was largely built upon the ideas of JCR Licklider and enabled people remote access to computers. The first computers were connected to the network in 1969, and the program was officially implemented in 1970.
The ARPANET enabled the remote transfer and access of data such as electronic mail and files, making it a primitive cloud environment. Just over a decade later, in 1983, the official birthday of the interned was celebrated, and the ARPANET was officially decommissioned in 1990.
The Modern Cloud
As the internet progressed into the mid-90s, internet service providers such as AOL, began growing rapidly, overtaking the online world. It was around this time that a young entrepreneur by the name of Sean O’Sullivan founded a startup that focused on the internal fortification of online environments. His company aimed to sell servers to ISPs and began using the term cloud computing shortly after. While his company would not see the success he had envisioned, the term he attempted to trademark, ‘cloud computing,’ would reemerge with force in the early 2000s with the rise of Google, and the launch of Amazon Web Services in 2002. As we now know, those two platforms would become the two largest cloud titans just a few years later.
The Future of the Cloud
As we saw in 2020, cloud computing secured its position as perhaps the most valuable technology we interact with regularly. All of the sudden, a large portion of the workforce is working remotely, able to access everything they need from their phone, tablet, or computer. Video conferencing has begun winning out over face-to-face meetings as the landscape of technology has seemed to turn more flexible, almost in an instant.
At the end of the day, the role of clouds, both public and private will become even more important as we move further into the 2020s. In the past couple of years, cloud investment has climbed 34.4 percent year over year. This means that we should expect to see advancements that will make life even easier, and the rise of augmented reality on cloud platforms is almost certainly soon to be seen.
In short, organizations who dwell in the clouds and invest resources to better their environments will see the fruits of their efforts while most companies who have avoided the cloud will, in time, be left behind entirely. Technology is following a clear path in the direction of continually-improving cloud computing and is experiencing growth explosions at every turn. While many things still remain unclear, one thing is certain— the future is in the clouds.