IT Outsourced  

Cloud computing

There are a lot of articles and ‘buzz’ about cloud services or cloud computing. Cloud computing is not really a new concept and has its origins as far back as 1950s when mainframe computers were popular. Individual terminals had no real capacity but utilized the massive resources available on the central mainframe computer. The concept of centralized computing has evolved into what we call ‘the cloud’ today. John McCarthy (September 4, 1927 – October 24, 2011) was a leading scientist who first proposed the idea of Cloud computing in the early 1960s.

Mainframe computing gave way to workstations starting in the 80s. The ability of a single user with a reasonably powerful workstation to complete tasks such as payroll or engineering calculations opened the door for computers to permeate all aspects of business very quickly. This evolved into client/server computing whereby organizations could maintain autonomy amongst individuals with workstations but still give them access to shared resources on a server. The internet allowed organizations to setup centralized but highly accessible networks often referred to as private clouds. Virtualization allows physical resources to be allocated and shared easily.

So, your company buys its first computer and sets it up to do a variety of tasks. Perhaps you have a retail store and you use the computer as a till as well as your accounting system. Time progresses along. You add additional workstations and eventually, a server so that the workstations can access shared information like accounting data or perhaps inventory management systems. Your organization continues to grow and you find you need additional servers to house central mail systems, web services and remote users. Recently you amalgamated all the servers into a single virtual environment, with a second redundant server which allows for fall back in the event of an emergency.

Cloud computing could be the next evolution in your organization. Take all the servers, workstations and put them up onto the web. Users are now highly mobile, working from home computers, mobile phones and even public access terminals at various locations. Organizations can rapidly grow or downsize depending on market conditions. Performance is negotiated based on demand, not on your budget and need at the time of purchase.

You are out for coffee with your spouse and you bump into your favourite car salesman. During pleasantries, you mention you have been thinking about replacing your car with a new vehicle. She pulls out her mobile device, sits down and you go through some options. The perfect vehicle is parked at the lot. The website video looks really nice, and you bring a finance manager from the dealership into the conversation via a connection where you negotiate a great deal and some additional options. Someone from the dealership brings you the car, and an insurance agent shows up to switch over your coverage while you enjoy your second cup of coffee. The technology exists right now.

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About the Author

Mark Smed started as a self-employed consultant, integrating computers into small business in 1989.  The range of work expanded into installing networks and consulting with businesses on the fast paced changes in technology.  As his career progressed he taught Network Administration at a small business college and continued to build his base of clients. 

Today, Mark works for Northern Computer Inc. (http://www.northerncomputer.ca) as a consultant, specialist and technician.  His client base continues to grow and many of his clients have worked with him for over 10 years now.  In 2001, Mark joined the Network Professional Association (http://www.npa.org) and now sits on the board of directors and is responsible for publishing the Network Professional Journal for the association.

Mark can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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