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The Evolution of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has become a fixture in the IT landscape over recent years. Some debate has even arisen over whether the development of cloud computing counts as evolution or a revolution. Leaving such questions to others (evolution and revolution both signify change, perhaps simply at a different rate or by more or less gradual steps), a brief (and broad) look at the history of the cloud may provide some indicators as to where it’s headed next.


The origins of the cloud are often seen in mainframe computing in the last century. This is a matter also up for some debate, as some cloud proponents like to treat cloud computing as an entirely new phenomenon. Skeptics (or, perhaps, just less excitable types) sometimes see the cloud as nothing new at all, but rather just a rebranding of a computing model that has been around for decades. As with most such arguments, reality is probably somewhere in between. The fundamental model of centralized resources certainly can be traced to mainframe.

This trend of centralization is not trivial, however. As computing technology became smaller, cheaper and thus more accessible to more businesses and consumers, computing power began decentralizing. In businesses, for example, getting computer time became less and less a problem—unlike early computers, which were bulky, expensive and difficult to operate. The connectivity of the Internet, leading to the cloud model, essentially involves a recentralization of compute power. “From a business and management perspective [cloud computing] signifies a return of some of the characteristics of mainframe computing, in terms of power, expense, and centralization of operations and expertise,” notes Peter HJ van Eijk at CircleID (“Cloud Is the New Mainframe”).
The cloud is certainly more sophisticated than mainframe systems in, say, the 1970s or 1980s, and the scope of access is greatly increased. Depending on the particular service, you can potentially access the cloud from anywhere with an Internet connection—although even this isn’t fundamentally different from using a remote computer with a modem to dial into the VAX system at company headquarters to access email or run some “online” program. So, is the cloud revolutionary or evolutionary? That may simply depend on which aspects of the cloud you want to emphasize relative to mainframes or other computing models. For more details here from the source

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