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Tech history 101

Know your history — When your head’s in the clouds

JAX Editorial Team
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© Shutterstock / Inspiring (modified)

Welcome to our History 101 series! This week, we explore cloud computing. Did you know the birth of the Internet was pretty much the beginning of the cloud itself? Open your textbooks to chapter four; class is in session!

Another Wednesday has come and another tech history class is in session! This week we take a look at the history of cloud computing, its journey to the present and its rise to the top of tech trends, as well as what the future holds for one of most groundbreaking -or skybreaking, in this case- technologies of our century!

Everyone have a seat and get your textbooks ready; tech history class is in session!

The Time-Sharing theory

At the age when computing time could cost you several million dollars, sometime in 1955, John McCarthy came up with a theory of sharing computing time among an entire group of users. McCarthy’s theory of “time-sharing” was an absolute milestone in changing the way people viewed computing since it would be essential in helping get the most out of the computing time available, as well as making it available to smaller companies that couldn’t afford to buy their own mainframes.

By the 1960s there was not much major advancement in computing until the time an American computer scientist named J.C.R. Licklider came up with an idea for an interconnected system of computers. Licklider, in that sense, can be considered one of the most important people in the creation of the modern Internet and cloud computing. The father of cloud computing technology, perhaps?

SEE ALSO: Does serverless really have a dominant position in the IT landscape?

The big changes came around 1970s with the introduction to the concept of Virtual Machines (VM). The VM operating system was the next level for the 1950s’ shared access mainframe. By permitting multiple distinct computing environments to reside on one physical environment, virtualization became the driver of technology and was a milestone in the evolution of communication and information.

The empty space

During its young years, the cloud was used to express the empty space between the end user and the provider. Professor Ramnath Chellapa of Emory University defined cloud computing in 1997:

It is the new computing paradigm, where the boundaries of computing will be determined by economic rationale, rather than technical limits alone.

The game-changing move in the history of cloud computing came with the launch of Salesforce.com, which arrived in 1999 and quickly became a pioneer in delivering enterprise applications via the cloud, what is now known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

Three years later, in 2002, Amazon Web Services launched, with the Google App Engine following in 2008 and Microsoft Azure in 2010. Cloud computing had now transformed from a mad idea to a daily norm.

It’s a serverless world

The evolution of cloud computing over the past decades has been more than impressive. It is time, however, to take the next step forward and that is to embrace the era of serverless computing.

Serverless -or event-driven computing if we want to name it more accurately- is the next level of abstraction in cloud computing, as experts put it. With serverless computing, developers can execute code that write using only the precise amount of compute resources needed to complete the task. No more, no less.

With such a revolutionary concept as its base, it is no mystery why cloud computing has become the absolute trend among the developer community.

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Speaking of cloud computing, make sure you don’t’ miss our informative interview series ‘A tour of cloud computing’

  • Abby Kearns: “It’s very important for technology to be cloud-compatible, if not cloud-native”
  • Oleg Chunikhin & Terry Shea“Serverless is another step towards improving productivity, especially in DevOps and operations”
  • Peter Meulbroek“Cloud-neutral adds a large amount of complexity and risk to a migration, without really solving the issue”
  • Ross Kukulinski“Observability is an essential component when successfully operating software in the cloud”
  • Carlos Sanchez“A seamless multi-cloud experience is currently practically impossible”
  • Ben Newton“Kubernetes is crucial for widespread multi-cloud adoption”
  • Shiven Ramji“The next step is to make integrations between cloud services as easy as possible”
  • Brian Johnson“Cloud-based infrastructure by itself doesn’t deliver huge benefits”
  • Vince Arneja“The Fn project is one technology to watch out for as it has great potential”
  • Jeff Keyes“Serverless is the natural evolution of microservices”
  • John Mathon“The cloud gives us a lot of tools for producing better security”
  • Vamsi Chemitiganti: “Every enterprise should run on hybrid cloud”

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Miss a week of class? We’ve got your make-up work right here. Check out other chapters in our Know Your History series!