In 1963, DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), presented MIT with $2 million for Project MAC (Multiple Access Computer). The funding included a requirement MIT develop technology allowing for a “computer to be used by two or more people, simultaneously.” In this case, one of those gigantic, archaic computers using reels of magnetic tape for memory was the precursor to what has now become collectively known as Cloud Computing.
Cloud computing is a very broad term describing the usage of off-site computing. It is the latest major phase in the evolution of Information Technology, in which all the major components of computing – hardware, software, storage, networking, data, information and expertise – are abstracted as scalable services, available globally and on-demand from either “multitenant” public or single-customer private facilities, typically through some type of subscription, pay-per-use or other variable cost models.
Cloud computing is a catalyst for digital transformation, which has brought the advantage that only big corporations had before for any small enterprise to benefit. For this reason, we can define Cloud Computing as a democratizing force, which allows millions of small teams around the world to operate as modern era entrepreneurs by marketing, selling and serving customers globally. In the past, this was nearly impossible. On the contrary, nowadays every business in the world is a technology business, and more than 70 percent of enterprises use or plan to use Cloud Computing in the form of SaaS (Software as a Service). As a consequence, spreadsheets of data stored on a local filesystem or documents lost deep within the account’s team hard drive, which no one else in the organisation can access, is now fast becoming a thing of the past.
In the cloud upgrades are automatic, operational costs are far lower, scalability is increased, employees have anytime, anywhere access to their work, and you get enhanced storage space and security. Another benefit of cloud computing is that it dismantles the traditional relationship between physical devices and content. And this concept will become increasingly important over the next few years as organisations find their customer-facing – and even internal – websites and systems need to support more and more forms of mobile technology, an activity that is expensive and complex to manage.
In short, the biggest driver for cloud is simply good business for IT, users, and businesses as a whole: reduction of costs and complexity, flexibility and reliability.