What is the Cloud? What is cloud computing?

The Cloud or cloud computing are terms that have become more common over the last few years.

Basically, they refer to storing data and/or IT infrastructure on the Internet rather that in your computer or a memory device at your home or office.

Lets go back many years to see how humans have stored data.

Storing data 50-60 years ago

A few decades ago people kept their music in vinyl records (EPs or LPs). This was how people stored music when the Beatles became popular in the 1960s.

Photographs were stored on paper, and a collection of photographs were kept in paper albums.

Movies were stored on reels that could be watched if they were threaded through a projector.

Files and documents were stored on paper and stacked up onto shelves.

Storing data 10-40 years ago

During the seventies, VHF and Betamax video cartridges which stored films came onto the market, as did audio cassette tapes.

In the seventies companies started using mainframe computers in a big way, especially the larger corporations for processing and storing data.

In the eighties personal computers came onto the market, as did floppy disks which stored data, photographs, sound files (including music), games and software.

In the 1990s and 2000s CDs appeared – they stored music, photographs, files, movies, games and various types of software. Memory sticks also became popular.

Up to a few years ago all these things were stored in floppy discs, memory sticks, smartphones, mobile phones, iPods, MP3 players, and computer hard drives.

The emergence of the Cloud or cloud computing

After about 2007, when Facebook took off, a growing number of photographs were stored in people’s Facebook accounts, i.e. they were stored online, on the internet……in the Cloud.

Today pictures are commonly stored on Flickr or Facebook, we listen to music on Pandora or some similar online service, while companies such as Netflix or Amazon stream movies that are watched online.

In all these cases, movies, pictures and music are not stored in our smartphones, computers, memory sticks or hard drives, but elsewhere – that place is known as The Cloud.

The Cloud refers to the Internet when we are talking about storing things, things we used to store on our own memory devices.

If you have a Yahoo mail or Gmail account, everything is stored online, i.e. in The Cloud.

Cloud services are diversifying and offering software, hardware and information services.

The Cloud offers companies flexibility

For small companies, the Cloud offers them the opportunity to gain IT infrastructures which used to cost a lot of money and required high staff numbers. By having everything somewhere else – online – companies can pick and choose as needs arise.

If you have a six-month project that requires specialist IT components, your Cloud service provider can make it all available. When your project is completed and you don’t need them any more, you re-adjust your Cloud service package.

Where did the term ‘cloud computing’ come from?

The term ‘Cloud Computing’ was coined in 1996 at an office park outside Houston, Texas, according to Antonio Regalado in an article published in the journal MIT Technology Review.

Regalado explained:

“At the time, Netscape’s Web browser was the technology to be excited about and the Yankees were playing Atlanta in the World Series.”

“Inside the offices of Compaq Computer, a small group of technology executives was plotting the future of the Internet business and calling it ‘cloud computing.”

Cloud computing news:

August 22, 2014: The National Science Foundation has awarded $10 million for two cloud computing research programs, called CloudLab and Chameleon. Research teams will develop and perform experiments with new cloud architectures.