If you haven’t already; you will soon be hearing a lot more about Cloud Computing. I thought that it might be about time to demystify the term so that the buzz doesn’t get in the way of the reality.
The new term “Cloud Computing” comes by way of Grid Computing which has held sway over the last few years; when it comes to the Internet delivery of just about anything that has to transit the Internet. If you have seen an IT diagram there is always a cloud in between the origination point of the information you need; and you. The cloud represents a structure of servers, routers and other internet appliances which are needed to efficiently get data, information and knowledge from where it is created or stored, into your, hands, ears and/or, eyeballs.
First there was ARPANET, created in the late 1960’s, which became the foundation of a very limited technology which was used by universities to communicate with the Advanced Research Programs Agency; the ARPA in ARPANET. By the time we made it to the seventies a much more efficient method of controlling and managing the Internet appeared. Called, TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), TCP/IP was the technical achievement that made the Internet as we know it today; possible. No there won’t be a test.
In the sixties we had FTP, File Transfer Protocol, to move files and messages, there were bulletin boards and E-Mail in the seventies and eighties. Anyone wanting to link a computer to a network got to choose from among the many private network systems available, Delphi, CompuServe, Prodigy, Genie, etc. None of these allowed any connection to the world outside the individual network and its subscribers. Then up popped www; the World Wide Web complete with TCP/IP.
I think that you may begin to see that the beginnings of the WWW were much like the beginning of telephone networks where there were thousands of wired connections which came into a central switching facility and your message was handled by one of the young gentleman or young ladies who were the operators for the service. Not very efficient but it worked nonetheless.
The World Wide Web has wires then fiber, switches, protocols - Internet rules of the road, routers which applied and enforced the rules of the road, at least for the most part, allowing us to get files, messages, and information from one global place to another. Volume grew incrementally as developers created new ways for us to use all of this power. We got Internet browsers, Instant messaging, Streaming Media (my personal favorite), Yahoo, MSN, Google, Gmail, Maps, Blogs, YouTube’s reality TV, page searches for airline flights, hotels, and cars from 100’s of different travel sites. Unique software sliders which let you filter airline flights by time or price range; you can view all available airlines, airports, and hotel chains and you can winnow all of this information down to just your personal favorites.
So where does Cloud computing come in? Well our friends and providers on the Internet are about to give us more and more capabilities on the web. The Cloud is a way of saying the Internet, is becoming and will become, more efficient, and have access to more and more bandwidth. The Cloud will be fast. The Network will transmit data at speeds of 2.4 gigabits per second; that’s 45,000 times faster than a 56 Kbps modem.