Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Origins of Cloud computing - from Collaborations to Cloud

 Before cloud computing emerged,  there was client/server computing, centralized storage in which all the data, software applications and all the controls reside on the server side.

If a user wants to run a program or access a specific data, then he connects to the server and gain appropriate access and can do his business. Distributed computing concept came after this, where all the computers are networked together and resources are shared when needed.

The Cloud Computing concept came into the picture in the year 1950 with accessible via thin/static clients and the implementation of mainframe computers. Then in 1961, John McCarthy delivered a speech at MIT in which he suggested that computing can be sold like a utility like electricity and food. 

Cloud computing has as its antecedents both client/server computing and peer-to-peer distributed computing. It’s all a matter of how centralized storage facilitates collaboration and how multiple computers work together to increase computing power.

Client/Server Computing: Centralized Applications and Storage

In the antediluvian days of computing (pre-1980 or so), everything operated on the client/server model. All the software applications, all the data, and all the control resided on huge mainframe computers, otherwise known as servers.
If a user wanted to access specific data or run a program, he had to connect to the mainframe, gain appropriate access, and then do his business while essentially “renting” the program or data from the server.
So the client/server model, while providing similar centralized storage, differed from cloud computing in that it did not have a user-centric focus; with client/server computing, all the control rested with the mainframe—and with the guardians of that single computer. It was not a user-enabling environment.

Peer-to-Peer Computing: Sharing Resources

As you can imagine, accessing a client/server system was kind of a “hurry up and wait” experience. The server part of the system also created a huge bottleneck. All communications between computers had to go through the server first, however inefficient that might be.

The obvious need to connect one computer to another without first hitting the server led to the development of peer-to-peer (P2P) computing. P2P computing defines a network architecture in which each computer has equivalent capabilities and responsibilities. This is in contrast to the traditional client/server network architecture, in which one or more computers are dedicated to serving the others. (This relationship is sometimes characterized as a master/slave relationship, with the central server as the master and the client computer as the slave.)

Distributed Computing: Providing More Computing Power

One of the most important subsets of the P2P model is that of distributed computing, where idle PCs across a network or across the Internet are tapped to provide computing power for large, processor-intensive projects. It’s a simple concept, all about cycle sharing between multiple computers.

A personal computer, running full-out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is capable of tremendous computing power. Most people don’t use their computers 24/7, however, so a good portion of a computer’s resources go unused. Distributed computing uses those resources.

Collaborative Computing: Working as a Group

From the early days of client/server computing through the evolution of P2P, there has been a desire for multiple users to work simultaneously on the same computer-based project. This type of collaborative computing is the driving force behind cloud computing, but has been around for more than a decade.

Early group collaboration was enabled by the combination of several different P2P technologies. The goal was (and is) to enable multiple users to collaborate on group projects online, in real time.

Cloud Computing: The Next Step in Collaboration

With the growth of the Internet, there was no need to limit group collaboration to a single enterprise’s network environment. Users from multiple locations within a corporation, and from multiple organizations, desired to collaborate on projects that crossed company and geographic boundaries. To do this, projects had to be housed in the “cloud” of the Internet, and accessed from any Internet-enabled location.

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