Who Did Coin the Term Cloud Computing?
by Leslie Ellis // November 07 2011
In the Oct. 31 edition of MIT Technology Review, writer Antonio Regalado delves into the origin of this ample ingredient in tech jargon: “Cloud computing.”
His research puts the date at November 1996 – almost exactly 15 years ago. That’s when a renegade group of technologists inside Compaq Computer (later bought by H-P) coined the phrase, as a strategy to sell more servers to Internet Service Providers (ISPs.)
Not Google, in 2006. Or Amazon, with its Elastic Compute Cloud (abbreviated “EC2.”) Or Dell, who tried to trademark the term in 2008, only to get lambasted by the ever-vocal computer programming community.
Given the reach of the publication, and the incendiary nature of such a topic, I’m betting a dime that Regalado gets lots and lots comments (and mail flames) on his linguistic timestamp.
Think of this in plain old cable terms. Ever ask an old-timer who built the first cable system, and where? It always comes out at least two ways: Oregon and Pennsylvania, in a dead heat.
Besides, it just seems to me that “cloud computing” must twist back farther than 15 years.
Here’s how the National Institute of Standards and Technology recently defined the term: “A model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
“Or service provider interaction”? Not to quibble with the nation’s standards setting body, but for the readers of this publication, and as this column has pointed out before: Cable is a cloud. Ever more so these days, as operators and program networks race to place clickable icons on all of our screens that can play video, but aren’t necessarily connected via a set-top box.
Think about it: Headends are morphing into “data centers,” and every operator in the land is readying its “as a service” suffixes – in the cloud world, these go by “infrastructure as a service (IaaS),” “software as a service (SaaS),” and so on.
Which brings into question whether “cloud computing” is synonymous with “network-based computing.” I’d say yes.
Out of curiosity, and because cable’s engineering community is generally game for such controversy, I posted the link to the piece on Facebook, seeking harrumphs.
This is when I realized (again) that I’ve collected a friend base of smart alecs: “Tim Tebow” and “Timothy Leary” showed up, as well as this comment from pal Bill Sheppard: “I cannot tell a lie — it was me.”
Regardless of where you stand on the matter, you can’t ever go wrong in reading MIT Technology Review, which last year brilliantly asked whether what’s going on is a cloud – or a swamp.
One line stood out to me in Regalado’s piece: “’Cloud computing’ captures a historic shift in the IT industry as more computer memory, processing power, and apps are hosted in remote data centers, or the ‘cloud.’”
So, be super nice to your IT people. They’re who will make sure you’re a cloud, and not a swamp.
This column originally appeared in the “Platforms” section of Multichannel News.