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What is Cloud Computing? History of the Cloud

By: Total Computer Solutions

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The term "cloud" is a holdover from the pioneering days of the Internet when the expansive network was notated on flowcharts simply as "the cloud". Since the cloud computing concept has reached maturity in recent decades, accelerated in usability by advances in broadband connection speeds, there is a misperception that the cloud is a recent 21st century invention, as reported in this article at IBM.

From Dumb Terminals to Virtual Machines

Cloud concepts have actually been evolving gradually since the 1950s, starting with the development of mainframe computing. The first"dumb terminals" allowed access for multiple users to a mainframe computer, when computer sizes and cost were enormous. Since the full processing power of the mainframe wasn't needed by the typical individual user this "shared access" concept made the best sense economically for businesses at the time. Today's Chromebooks use the same concept, relying completely on internet access to run applications and retrieve data.

The next step up was the development of VMware or Virtual Machines somewhere around 1970. This concept made it possible to execute one or more operating systems in a single hardware environment simultaneously. Virtual machines became analogous to complete computers within a computer. We still rely on the VM concept in cloud computing today. It provides the versatility to scale up (or down) to meet business application and data demands, giving rise to the cloud computing term "computing on demand".

2018: You're Already Using the Cloud

Computing can best be explained as the transfer of data storage and applications from on-premise hard drives and servers to the internet. To name just a few popular services, if you're using Facebook, Hotmail, Gmail, Microsoft One-Drive, Google Docs, or Google Drive you're already enjoying the benefits of the cloud. These services give you the ability to access apps and data from any of your favorite devices without depending on any single hard drive.

Read Reasons Why Your Business Should Already Be in the Cloud

Broadband Speeds and the Cloud

Mobility and increased access to data are major factors driving businesses in the massive move to the cloud today. In the recent past, computing was hindered by slow dial-up connection speeds. Today broadband speeds rival those of processing speeds in a hard drive, enabling compatible app performance in the cloud. In many cases, enterprise-class applications with high levels of transactions actually show significant performance improvement after migrating to the cloud. 

Where is the Cloud?

The cloud, despite its ethereal connotations, is rooted firmly to the ground in a massive network of data centers and technical service providers all connected by miles of cable according to this article at Forbes.  Microsoft and Facebook have teamed up to lay a 4,000-mile underwater cable to speed up connections between massive data centers in Virginia and Spain.

Once across the Atlantic Ocean, they'll branch out to points in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. High standards for speedy processing in the cloud have ruled out satellite technology as an option because of delays, and the undersea cable can deliver data at 160 terabits per second. For Microsoft, this super-fast data connection will extend the reach of Azure, Bing, Xbox, and Office. 

Migrating to the Cloud

For an individual user, migrating his music and pictures to the cloud may not be a significant decision, especially if he's prone to misplace his flash drives or has already replaced his laptop with a Chromebook. For businesses though, migrating to the cloud has no "one size fits all" solution. A business still using older legacy applications might face performance obstacles, and network architecture is always a consideration which must be evaluated prior to any migration of business apps or data to the cloud.

At Total Computer Solutions, we've been helping businesses move smoothly to the cloud for years. We can help your organization find the most suitable solutions to reap the benefits of cloud computing, increasing profitability while reducing IT costs. Don't hesitate to look to TCS as your first resource for providing the "computing on demand" versatility your business needs to match the ever-changing business environment. 

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