What is the Cloud? Indeed…
On my way up to the 11th floor this morning one of the elevator news screens presented me with the question: ‘What is the cloud?’ and then went on to say something about Steve Jobs bringing computing to the stratosphere. As I stared up at the screen I cringed visibly and muttered something under my breath that made my fellow passengers inch away from me ever so slightly.
Just so the three people who read my blog have the best information, Steve Jobs didn’t invent the cloud. In fact, Steve Jobs hasn’t even innovated the cloud. Long before he put an i before the word cloud and introduced it to the consumers so they can store their mp3’s online (making it easier to listen to music and eat at McDonald’s at the same time) the word term was used to describe a wide variety of services available to anyone. Jobs isn’t even the first person to bring the cloud to consumers. If you have ever used YouTube, Blogger, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter or Google Documents, you have used the cloud.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology provides the following, specific definition:
“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
In fact, the term cloud is simply a metaphor for the internet. It was popularized by products like Microsoft Visio using a diagram of an actual cloud to indicate the presence of a large network of interconnected devices, namely, the internet. Conceptually, the idea of cloud computing can trace its roots all the way back to the 1960’s when computer scientist named John McCarthy shared the opinion that “computation may someday be organized as a public utility”.
Amazon played a key role in the development of cloud computing by modernizing their data centers and launched Amazon Web Service (AWS) on a utility computing basis in 2006. It was reported in 2011 that Amazon has thousands of corporate customers including Pfizer, Netflix, Foursquare, Quora and Reddit. The first exposure of the term Cloud Computing to public media is by Google Ex CEO Eric Schmidt at SES San Jose 2006.
To be honest, Mac and iCloud are about the last company in the world to get to the cloud. They are only coming along grudgingly because they know the iTunes ecosystem is about to be left in the dust by a variety of similar services that allow consumers to buy their media once and use it anywhere.