History and innovations in recent times

Cloud technology and innovation drives data-driven decision making culture in any organization. It is the epitome of modern technology right now with multi-dimensional innovations shaping every layer. It is no surprise that almost all large enterprises and SMEs have shifted a part of their operations to the cloud.

The cloud market is well on track to reach the expected $495 billion dollar mark by the end of 2022. Despite cost-cutting being the main reason why most companies shift to the cloud, that is not the only benefit they walk away with. The transformation the cloud is going to witness in the next decade is beyond what we can all imagine. And how this transformation will impact businesses in the short and long run is the main discussion in this blog.

Cloud technology has been around since the mid-2000s. The pandemic gave it the push it needed to accelerate in terms of growth and innovation. Companies planning to scale their business in the next few years without a definite cloud strategy might want to reconsider.

What’s so special about the Cloud?

Cloud technology is a fascinating subject. Many people still confuse cloud computing with ‘cloud washing’. Cloud washing is storing data on the cloud for use over the internet. While that allows easy access to users, and saves costs, the cloud is much more and beyond that.

The following timeline shows how the young cloud market blew almost as soon as it hit the markets. The cloud is special for multiple reasons, most of which is highlighted on the timeline.

The evolution of Cloud Computing

1983: The internet is born (for the public).

SQL as a database language already exists. IBM had introduced the concept of Virtual Machines (VMs) almost a decade before the birth of the internet.
VMs are nothing but systems that work as computers (using hardware or software) to provide an additional computational environment for enterprises. The primary benefit is cost-savings over using multiple physical computers. Storing data is extremely expensive even with VMs during this time.

Fact: Virtualization had begun in the 1960s itself with the birth of ARPANET.

1995: The web is still developing but has aggressively picked up pace. The major tech companies are aware of its potential and they are trying to tap into it. Microsoft starts to offer Internet Explorer for free with its computers. They also prioritize developing multiple internet services.

Fact: JAVA and PhP, both originated during the mid-90’s

1998: Google comes into existence.

2002: Microsoft launches the .NET initiative. As new computer languages and platforms are becoming increasingly popular, the main goal of .NET initiative was to allow for the development of applications and web pages regardless of platform or language used.

Amazon launches AWS (but no cloud solutions yet).

2005: Microsoft passes internal memo to find solutions that could let users access their services through the internet. They were not successful until around 5 years later.

2006: Amazon spearheads the cloud initiative, drops EC2 and S3 into the market. S3 for storage and EC2 which provide virtual server or ‘instances’ on AWS instead of on-premise.

  • The pain point? Setting up on-premise server infrastructure was extremely expensive and time-consuming. EC2 was a more evolved version of a Virtual Machine.
  • Amazon strategically went with the pricing model of ‘on-demand’, allowing developers to pay only as-per their computational needs. Cloud instances meant renting instead of buying. Plus, cloud VMs further cut down time and costs a company had to pay by a large margin.
  • It took 2-3 years for another player to enter this market. This gap sealed the domination of AWS in the market.
  • 2 years later, the great recession would fuel the rise of cloud computing and SaaS products.
  • 14 years later, in 2020, the pandemic demands for remote work, and overnight revisions to business strategy. The rest is history. Cloud became a competitive advantage.

2007: Amazon launches SimpleDB, a non-relational (NoSQL) database that allows businesses to cheaply process vast amounts of data with minimal effort. The platform is built on S3 and EC2 using a hosted Hadoop framework.

  • Hadoop was developed in 2006. An efficient big data management and storage solution that AWS quickly took advantage of. They now have a disruptive data management solution to offer to its client base.
  • Evenflow, Inc (now Dropbox, Inc) is formed. Another disruptor in the cloud space, Dropbox now has over 500 million users.
  • Heroku comes into existence (but it only supports Ruby, which now is a popular programming language). The platform wasn’t received well at the beginning. After a year of battling rough waters, Heroku was sailing with the wind. The platform was later acquired by Salesforce in 2010 for over USD $200 million.

2008: Microsoft announces Windows Azure (PaaS) with Azure Blob storage (S3 competitor). Google launches Google App Engine, its own cloud computing platform against the EC2. The App Engine is a Platform as a service (PaaS) while EC2 is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). AWS, still one step ahead, launches Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), a secure, scalable, high-performance storage service.

  • The other players were just starting out while AWS was bringing forth new innovations to the table. As a result, AWS witnessed rapid adoptions in the market.
  • [You can read more on IaaS, PaaS and SaaS here]

2009: Amazon releases its own Relational Database Services on cloud to simplify set up and operations.

2010: Windows Azure is now Microsoft Azure (IaaS) aggressively trying to penetrate into the cloud market with a redefined strategy.

  • Google launches Google Cloud Storage and Google Workspace Marketplace to make business on the cloud easier.

2011: IBM enters the cloud market with IBM SmartCloud. By now there are a lot of new players in the cloud market. There is Alibaba Cloud, Turbonomic, Terremark etc. who saw the potential that cloud offered.

Microsoft Office 365 becomes Microsoft 365, a cloud-based application.

2012: Amazon Redshift, the first of its kind cloud-based data warehouse service comes into existence. Along with other new products they would release in the next 3 years, the AWS empire sealed their market leadership for the coming decade. Microsoft launches Virtual Machines (IaaS), another competitor for the EC2.

  • Amazon has been one step ahead of all their super-rich competitors thanks to its strategy and deep focus on its product quality and customer service. In 2022, Amazon is still the single largest leader in the cloud market with over 30% market share.
  • Google launches Google Drive.

Fact: IBM built the world’s first data warehouse in the 1980’s.

2013: Google launches Google Compute Engine (IaaS), its own version of EC2.

2014: Satya Nadella, who is influential behind Microsoft’s cloud market ventures, becomes the CEO of Microsoft. He puts forth a mobile-first, cloud-first strategy. Both Azure and AWS would go on to become equally strong in terms of core services, product innovation and pricing.

  • Microsoft also releases Power BI, a data visualization and business intelligence tool.
  • AWS launches AWS Lambda, a Functions as a Service (FaaS) tool and continues adding upgrades, updates, and new tools to its already impressive portfolio. FaaS comes as a breakthrough for serverless computing. With FaaS, developers can create and run code without the need for managing servers.
  • Microsoft launches Azure ML Studio for machine learning capabilities on the cloud.
  • Google releases Kubernetes. A major disruptor in the cloud markets.

2015: Google announces Google Kubernetes Engine for the cloud.

Kubernetes is a platform that automates the deployment and management of cloud native applications or ‘containerized workloads’. It is faster and more scalable than Virtual Machines. And as a result, AWS, Oracle and Microsoft embrace Kubernetes with open arms. More on Kubernetes soon.

2016: Oracle launches with competencies across compute, storage, and networking. Google launches BigQuery, its own data warehousing tool and Microsoft introduces Azure SQL Data Warehouse and Azure Data Lake Store.

  • Oracle, even though a late-comer, aggressively climbed its way to the top with multiple products and services being launched every year.
  • AWS rolls out SageMaker, designed to build, train, test and deploy machine learning (ML) models. Pinpoint for marketers to send personalized push notifications and Lex, a chatbot builder.

2017: AWS releases Translate and Transcribe, both AI tools. Former for translations and latter for transcribing.

2018: IoT and edge computing open up new opportunities for organizations. Microsoft starts to offer Azure IoT Central and IoT Edge. Google announces Cloud IoT.

  • Edge computing is the process of decentralizing computer services and shifting them closer to the data source.

2019: Hybrid cloud strategy starts to trend. New product entrants include AWS Outposts, Google Anthos and Azure Stack. The three aim at making hybrid cloud management a seamless experience. Microsoft goes one step ahead and launches Azure Arc. Arc is a disruptive solution for hybrid cloud strategy which lets users run Azure data services on multi-cloud, on-premises, and edge.

2020: The pandemic erupts, forcing accelerated cloud adoption across the globe. Lots of SaaS companies witness explosive growth and are struggling to catch up with the demand. New innovations and products keep entering the markets despite the odds.

2021: The global cloud market size is at USD $445.3 Billion. Expected to reach USD $947.3 Billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 16.3%.

  • Both AWS and Azure currently offer over 200 fully featured cloud computing products and services. IBM has over 170 whereas Google has over 100, Oracle, over 80. The cloud providers have made their products and services to be as comprehensive as possible to ensure no bad experiences.
  • Java. PhP, ASP.NET and Python are the most popular cloud computing languages.
  • It is still unclear who first came up with the term, ‘cloud computing’. Even now this is a widely debated topic with various sources claiming various individuals and organizations. But we steer clear off that topic.

Cloud Technology Trends and Innovation

All five companies and AliCloud are showing strong growth trends in terms of revenue generated year-on-year. This is excellent news for the global economy as an indicator of technological innovation. Innovation is pushing all major players and startups to come up with novel approaches to combat current business problems. A significant fraction of businesses worldwide are running at least one of their big data workloads on the cloud. Kubernetes is still being explored widely as the technology for agile practices. And hybrid strategy seems to be the way forward for most of the enterprises.

According to IDC, the number of IoT devices could rise up to 41.6 billion by 2025. Data management solutions will need to keep up with the data demands of the next few years. Businesses find the need to manage unstructured data efficiently as a major business problem. Data lakes or data lake houses alone cannot solve the efficiency problem. This is because the majority of data generated today is unstructured, which brings up scalability and affordability concerns. Tapping into unstructured data and making unstructured data storage more affordable will be on the agenda for intelligent cloud solutions. Due to the unimaginable scale in which data could be accumulated in this decade, data management and AI will take the front seat in innovation.

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About BizAcuity

BizAcuity is an Atlanta-based data analytics, consulting and strategy company specializing in enterprise-level Data Engineering, Advanced Analytics and Business Intelligence. We work with companies from around the globe, understand their business needs and provide scalable, cost-effective solutions that accelerate their business performance.