Just how far has cloud computing progressed over the last 2 years?

Just how far has cloud computing progressed over the last 2 years?

To say that cloud computing has experienced rapid growth over the last few years is an incredible understatement

A lot can change within a couple of years, but mercurial growth and accelerated development is very rare. Most experts have been expecting progress in the area of cloud computing, but have been repeatedly surprised by just how fast this expansion has escalated in such a relatively short amount of time. Sure, there have been big jumps in the past (in computing, networking, hardware, and software), but never with a type of technology that has such a broad set of potential applications (no pun intended).

What makes cloud computing such a unique case is its ability to provide useful infrastructure or to mold to virtually any situation. In short, there isn’t really anything that the cloud can’t do. In fact, you can look at any piece of hardware and/or software in existence and chances are, there is a cloud computing equivalent. But it’s not about building comparable systems with the cloud; it’s about creating components which are highly versatile, easy to customize, and simple to create virtualized copies of.

Over the last 2 years (2010-2012), cloud computing (or one of its major providers) has helped to create:

  • Better security systems and protocols
  • Extremely elegant solutions for deploying all manner of social media content for large audiences
  • Useful business-specific services on both the consumer end and in the back office
  • True IaaS, which allows organizations to assume a great deal of control over their infrastructure
  • Powerful, stable and inexpensive cloud services for nearly every potential application you can think of
  • New approaches to software / hardware (true virtualization)
  • An explosion of SaaS-style services for any situation / purpose (many of which are free)
  • Cloud interfaces; which are bringing cloud technologies to consumer devices like tablets, smartphones, etc…
  • Incredibly advanced and powerful super-computer capabilities (for use in data analysis, research or perhaps in NASA-related missions)
  • Completely self-contained cloud services which are essentially fully packaged IT resources (PaaS, IaaS)
  • Cloud Gaming
  • Legitimate cloud OS (Windows server 2012)
  • …and many more incredible developments, etc…

The net result of all this advancement appears to be the positioning of cloud computing as the replacement for grid computing and networking. Likewise, as more people continue to plug into 4G (soon to be 5G) and high speed internet, the ability to utilize cloud computing technologies will become further evident (according to various stat-gathering groups, there are still millions who are using dial-up connections). Additionally, prices for faster connections seem to be dropping, which is spurring further adoption of cloud technologies in a roundabout way.

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However, the biggest development to occur over the last 2 years in the cloud computing arena has to be its adoption rates. Basically, we are about to see around half of all businesses integrating some form of cloud computing (if that’s not already the case). This might come in the form of lower-level SaaS (which is often integrated in with their current IT framework), or IaaS, which is a more complete IT solution which the user is tasked with managing. Once we see a true indication that cloud computing has captured over 50% of businesses and the general consumer population it will signal a complete and total shift toward the cloud as the definitive replacement.

For your average consumer, cloud computing is a staple of the web already, though many might not realize it. Many of the most popular sites, services and features like YouTube, Gmail, Dropbox and others, already make direct use of cloud technologies. Additionally, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and other gigantic companies are either designing and releasing device which integrate cloud features or pushing for the development of cloud-specific devices. Soon, we’ll likely see a glut of “cloud computers” hitting the market; devices which are little more than browser-based OS’s which connect to a cloud and are driven by subscription services.  

Furthermore, 2012 isn’t over yet and new advancements are taking place on what seems like a weekly basis now. Regardless of how you might feel about cloud computing, it’s extremely probable that 2013 will herald an intense year of further exponential growth for the technology (and global computing and networking). We’re probably going to see virtualized hardware services expand and integrated more like software, which will allow them to be quickly and painlessly incorporated into practically any setup. Likewise, cloud devices might emerge, which could completely change the way we look at individual machines forever. The only thing left to do is buckle your seat-belt and hold on for the ride; it’s going to be an exciting one.

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