Well not quite. It’s sort of but at the same time it’s so much more.
Recently, I had a discussion with my wife’s father. Although he is over 70 years old, he is still a rather technologically capable and perpetually curious individual. I mentioned that I was now working with a company that is focused on cloud security. He gave me a bewildered, puzzled look and repeated the words “the cloud” to me and said something like “it’s just someone else’s fat computer”.
In the technology industry, we have been working with “The Cloud” for over 15 years. Long enough for the term “cloud” to be used in the media and even by people outside the tech bubble. It has become a more common vernacular. It’s common enough that many don’t really know what “the cloud” really is. It’s those moments of realization that a technology and its terminology has become mainstream that have been the genesis of those blogs and podcast episodes in the past. I haven’t done one in a while and it seemed like a perfect opportunity.
It’s fair to say that Amazon invented what we now call the cloud. They were the first to market, but even they will admit it (or Andy Jassy, the founding CEO of AWS, admitted it)”I don’t think any of us had the audacity to predict that he would grow as big or as fast as he did..
It’s fair to say that Amazon invented what we now call the cloud.
Prior to the 2000s, the idea, and certainly the term, “something (eg, infrastructure) as a service” or its four-letter acronym ”
Between 2000 and 2003, Amazon was really trying to solve a problem that they had created for themselves. They were trying to streamline their own e-commerce system which was compromised by low margins and in doing so they created Amazon Web Services or AWS. This offshoot of Amazon aimed to create internal reusable common infrastructure services like storage to prevent teams from reinventing the wheel every time they start a new project. This is a common problem for many growing web-born technology organizations.
It took three years of solving their own problems to realize that this problem was common and that perhaps the internal AWS should be an AWS offered externally.
In 2006, AWS launched S3 (Simple Storage Service) to provide a highly scalable, reliable, and low-latency data storage infrastructure at very low costs. Aka a hard drive in the sky! Later that same year, he launched Elastic Compute Cloud or now known as EC2. Something so common in the cloud now that many users don’t know what EC2 actually means. (https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2006/08/24/announcing-amazon-elastic-compute-cloud-amazon-ec2—beta/). A computer in the sky is born! Computer and storage. What else could you need? You can even different sizes like Large and Extra Large. It was McDonalds for the count.
At that time, the cloud was actually someone else’s computer. It was Jeff Bezos’ computer and his big hard drive. From there it gets convoluted and confusing, because understanding how far beyond that is mind-boggling. Beyond that, at the extreme of those early services resulting in what is now a series of military-grade, defended data centers spanning 26 geographic regions around the world, creating 84 different “availability zones” with many other regions in preparation. It’s probably best thought of as a few million computers scattered around the world to provide you with a ubiquitous computer that always gives you a resilient, high-performance result, regardless of your geographic location.
A parallel that might seem familiar is cellular or mobile infrastructure. You’re traveling on a train with your phone and you can hold a call (mostly) because your phone switches between geographies and cell towers without any interruptions. Similarly, you can access an online service like banking or Amazon is a great example of an e-commerce platform that has spawned its own cloud, and it works wherever you are.
These two services in 2006 have grown to over 200 and offer everything from machine learning and artificial intelligence to quantum computing.
every time a cloud provider launches a new service, it’s probably a self-serving act of kindness
There’s a conference called AWS re:Invent which is a giant demo affair where AWS announces its shiny new service offerings and everyone cheers. Some of the innovations they announce every year are truly amazing. The seems, on the surface, like a product of lateral thinking. Some are, but for the most part, whenever a cloud provider launches a new service, it’s probably a self-serving act of kindness. Much like the creation of the concept of the cloud itself as a series of useful internal services to solve their own problem, this pattern did not stop. The shiny new machine learning service will likely be something they needed to make their own cloud infrastructure better or more efficient. They are always solving their own problem. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. It turns out that necessity at AWS calls for a whole new level of innovation that we also benefit from.
I’m using AWS as a poster child for this topic, but in all honesty, there are plenty of cloud providers out there. The big three also include Microsoft and Google. Microsoft has its Azure cloud with a similar data center scope and the bronze in the race is Google’s GCP (Google Cloud Platform). Each cloud platform has specific selling points, such as satisfying hardcore fans of the Microsoft ecosystem or ease of use and pricing. They all offer services with similar scale and capacity.
The cloud has also been described as the operating system of the internet
The cloud has also been described as the operating system of the Internet. That’s probably a more accurate definition than “someone else’s computer”. Providing the ability to create and accelerate any application you might want to create is similar to what your laptop does. It provides compute, storage, a user-friendly interface, and services for you to build your own application. In the case of the cloud, you can run your application on anything from a virtual MacBook to a world-scale 2000 processor-core supercomputer with full terabytes of RAM with security and resiliency and pay only what, when and how you use it; if that’s what you need.
The cloud is a solution for what were once millions of private acts of wheel reinvention performed at scale. It moves at breakneck speed and while it delivers, to a large extent, something amazing, it’s not without fault. Again this year, the AWS cloud experienced a few outages that killed services for major customers like Spotify! Although they provide services to guarantee their customers 99.999% uptime, they themselves occasionally discover a moment of weakness in their own infrastructure monitoring these services as a broken single point of failure.
The cloud is now synonymous with innovation. I can forgive the odd breakdown considering its unprecedentedly developed and state-of-the-art monumental offering. It’s exciting to see where we’ll be in a few years and how new cloud services and offerings are fueling innovations we didn’t even think of. It’s a good time for technology.
The post The Cloud!= Somebody Else’s Computer first appeared on Codifyre.
*** This is a syndicated blog from Codifyre’s Security Bloggers Network written by Stephen Giguere. Read the original post at: https://codifyre.com/cloud/the-cloud-somebody-elses-computer/