A future historian tells us the path to cloud computing

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Back in the 2000s, the cloud was first conceived as a pay-by-the-hour idea, and was born in the habit of borrowing computer resources and paying according to consumption. The idea was to use the landlord’s resources, and find a way to resell, hourly, what was available beyond what was needed for business.

The origin of one of those early cases of cloud happened as a result of newspapers having so many editions; one New York Times programmer back then intended to digitize the archive of his newspaper without having to buy a new system. Because of Derek Gottfrid, decades later, we are still talking about digitization. Now, we keep only a few pages of those physical papers as relics, and we mostly read the online versions. In the years to follow, some people tried to replicate that model cloud in their business, creating a replica of that private infrastructure (IaaS).

This first application was a short-lived success because, already in the second decade (2010s) ,private cloud was a model used only by a few large companies and became a niche. The reason given was that security issues had been resolved and that the savings in terms of economic efficiency always justify the transfer of IT infrastructure in outsourcing. The idea was taken as a mantra “no more CAPEX, only OPEX,” and a promise to guarantee an alignment between business and IT.

It is actually passed through a hybrid stage, middle age of this model, such as platforms (PaaS) that were ready for application software development. Those implementations have been only a springboard to have, finally, what everyone wanted, which is software as a service (SaaS). Everything else (PaaS and IaaS) fell into obscurity.

Tracing the history of information, including the reasons for the emergence of cloud, involves the evolution of hardware, which is fast in terms of power and decreasing cost, compared to the slow evolution of the software. From these opposing trends the need to bridge the gap was born. The first wave for virtualization and then next wave of cloud have filled this gap. In computer terms, the infrastructure is now considered multitenant; in the past, unfortunately, it was devoted only to a single user, in our case a tenant.

In the past, while pursuing efficiency of IT operations, we delegated our control of data to a few big enterprises. Since then, we have discovered that too much information in only a few hands has given enormous power to them, for example enormous power to businesses backed by naïve or dictatorial governments. Today, after many years of such absolute power, citizens have a renewed awareness of the danger of the excessive centralization of data and consequently limiting power to only a few businesses or individuals.

After so many years since the birth of the cloud, we can say that history has shown why cloud is left with a distributed approach and is through with using extreme centralization. Now we celebrate the liberation of our data, and send the old method, retired, to a nursing home, paid hourly.

But, no one believes that it will be much longer there. Consider a pendulum that moves from one side (the old method, centralization, and public cloud all for convenience) to the other side (the distributed approach and private cloud realizing the full control of owning data, even if inefficiencies exists).

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