In the mid 1970’s, online or interactive computing consisted of non-programmable desktop devices that connected to large (and expensive) “mainframe” computers. The big boxes handled the of running software and storing data. Later, computing power shifted to the desktop in the personal computer “revolution”. This provided flexibility in terms of access to more varied software programs and data stored locally.
In a way, with the cloud, we are returning to the old model. Software and storage are moving to a central location, away from the desktop. Due to the Internet, this centralized hardware and software complex may now be far away, in another state or country, not down the hall in a computing facility owned by the using organization.
By now, many businesses have begun using the cloud to run key software and store data. The following advantages will drive a continued ramp up in business spending on the cloud over the next several years:
Lower capital costs – Before the cloud, companies had to invest a lot of money for hardware and software before they even knew if the equipment supported desired business functions. Large technical staff was required to support the computing facility and upgrades to the technology were frequent and expensive. Now these costs may be “shared” among multiple enterprises thus reducing cost and the need for support staff
More agility – When companies rent computing capability, software, and storage space in the cloud, they can quickly add capacity. This type of elasticity is not available in traditional corporate data centers. Additionally, this capacity can support disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities that would otherwise require large capital outlays.
Better data mining The cloud gives organizations access to massive computational resources that would otherwise be tougher and more expensive maintain. This computing power provides the ability to run complex simulations and modeling programs.
Support for the mobile workforce – Increasingly, man jobs are performed "in the cloud." Work resides there. Employees go there to collaborate with co-workers in other cities. We work from the road or from home. Organizations hire employees who work from remote locations.
The cloud provides many advantages, is cost-effective, and ultimately may mirror the electric utility infrastructure of today. Computing continues to evolve and to me it seems to oscillate as it does so.