The year of the cloud?

Several years ago the word “cloud” entered into popular use around the time of Amazon’s AWS service launch. In that era, many hosting providers were offering virtualization of some sort, but a lot of us were scratching our heads on this whole “cloud” thing. “A server available on an hourly basis? Why would anyone want that?” was the collective cry.

It didn’t take long to find out why. The ability to ramp up servers to handle a spike in traffic was a huge win for businesses trying to adjust their hardware to handle demand. No longer did they have to keep extra equipment around, lying dormant in the hopes that a burst of visitors will awaken them. Soon after, commercial software vendors were selling cloud infrastructure software. Every hosting company was either trying to build its own cloud or rebranding its virtualization offerings to get in on this new cash cow.

Now that cloud services are maturing, self-proclaimed pundits are arguing about whether 2012 will be “the year of the cloud.”  They are asking whether the cloud was an “idea whose time had come” and usually share some data on the number of users moving to mainstream cloud computing.

According to this infographic shared from CloudTweaks, the cloud (as a concept) has been with us for quite a long time. Even the original ARPAnet was oriented around distributed computing to make best use of scarce computing resources. For example, the rlogin(1) program was developed to access remote Unix resources and use them for your processing jobs. Later the client-server model divided the workloads automatically using a client application on the local machine and communicated with a remote server that performed a lot of the actual work. The distribution of such an application was frequently referred to as “network computing.” Next, projects such as Seti@Home brought “on-demand” cloud-like workloads to the masses while BitTorrent implemented cloud-like storage for large file downloads. And that new cloud thing we were all wondering about? Well it has morphed into what we now call cloud computing, which adds “on-demand” functionality and sounds way cooler than network computing.

So in short, no, I don’t see the cloud as simply an “idea whose time has come.” The idea has been with us all along.

When did you first hear about cloud?

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