I’m one of those guys that enjoys knowing random facts and, of course, working in the cloud computing industry. On one of those spur of the moment type things, I decided to dig deeper into where the term “cloud computing” came from. For the most part, many people are still asking what cloud computing is, and the answers ranged based on current technological advances, who you speak to and which industry you are in. What many are unaware of is where this all started. I figured that if I could pinpoint the origins, I could, at least, understand it better and be able to explain it to others in a more clear and concise way.

As for the “who coined the phrase cloud computing”, I came across a famous cloud computing blogger, John Willis (johnmwillis.com) who had received some research on this exact topic from Atlanta based cloud enthusiast, Chris Sears. The actual term, from what I understand and from what I have read is not exactly straightforward. The argument rather, is when did this all come about.  I’ll let you read it for yourself as it’s quite an interesting read (Who Coined The Phrase Cloud Computing) and the comments are even better.

Summarizing, the John Willis blog begins at cloud computing and ends at the term cloud. Many of us have heard or know that in 2006, Eric Schmidt of Google made the term popular. However, contrary to popular belief, this is not when the term “cloud computing” came into existence.

I can’t state specifically when the term came to be, but the consensus is some time in the early to mid 90s. However, the term Cloud, without the “computing,” seems to have existed for far longer. In fact, research suggests that the term was initially used by IBM to describe how “cloud and mainframe release management for applications are different. Update a mainframe mission critical application that runs on a single box and your enterprise is up-to-date across all 256 CPUs.” In today’s world, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense; by definition, it does. Cloud computing is, by and large, a collection or conglomerate of technologies available to do what you need it to do.

It’s difficult to make a clear definition because some infrastructures, platforms, software etc. are built to handle certain criteria. For the most part, if you want to utilize technology to save you money, give you better privacy and security, utility model, scalability, flexibility and so on, then customize it to your needs; all of this is cloud computing. Through my research, I have literally gone through hundreds of cloud vendors and nearly each one has a different specialization. To summarize, it’s not how much technology you utilize, it’s what you do with it or what you want to achieve with it.

NOTE:  Originally Published on The Web Host Industry Review which has since be shut down. (2011)

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