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Cloud computing: Our next public utility?

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Whenever I try to understand a new concept, I take a quick look at Wikipedia, where you can usually get a basic overview of a concept. A few years ago, I read of a concept started by John McCarthy from the early 1960s about how computation may someday be organized as a public utility. When you see how other utilities like telephone services have evolved in the past hundred years, it is easy to see that McCarthy’s idea is perfectly valid.

cloud computing public utilityThe term cloud has its origin in the telephony industry when telecommunication companies started to offer virtual private network services instead of the more expensive point-to-point circuits. With this new feature (back in the 1990s), they were able to utilize their overall network bandwidth more effectively. Bandwidth was a precious resource in those days and the VPN technology was implemented as a reasonable solution to take the maximum throughput from existing telephony networks, reducing the price to consumers.

This new paradigm also provided some new concepts like elastic provisioning and the illusion of infinite supply. Those concepts are the heart of what we call cloud computing today.

The cloud concept then was extended to define any service that was consumed from a pool of resources. As telephony companies were the providers of telephony services, cloud providers were needed to provide computing services to the users.

The evolution to start consuming computing services from the cloud needed the ability to access this computing power from everywhere. The explosion of the Internet provided the perfect means for any user to access resources, and as you may suspect, telephony companies were the best suited to migrate from telephony service providers to cloud service providers. They were the owners of the network and they already had the customers, so it was only a matter of time to become a cloud service provider.

Another feature of the cloud, as with any other utility, is the pay-per-use pricing scheme. All these concepts are related to the cloud computing paradigm.:

  • Elasticity
  • Infinite availability
  • Online presence
  • Pay-per-use

The cloud, as all can see today, has evolved (and will continue evolving) and fits perfectly into the information technology (IT) arena.

Today, compute, storage and memory are the “energy” that drives modern business and every company needs the agility to react to the changing requirements that their ecosystem needs. The lack of resources can seriously impact the business. Having the ability to “consume” more “energy” in the precise moment that is needed is the perfect equation for every line of business.    

What do you think? Connect with me on Twitter @JavyBarabas.

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