The idea of cloud computing dates back to at least the 1950s when Herb Grosch, an early computer scientist, predicted that computing power would ultimately be centralized in approximately 15 large data centers, with users accessing the information and processing power via individual terminals. It set the stage for what became known as computer timesharing, where “dumb” terminals were simply remote windows to the computer. Early configurations had a mainframe computer that did all the work, accessed by terminals in nearby rooms. The timeshare concept essentially extended this by providing the communication technology that allowed terminals to be housed in remote locations.
The later advent of the minicomputer, from Digital Equipment Corporation, and eventually microcomputer and PC technology, seemed to shelve for good the idea of big centralized data centers serving remote locations, since small desktop systems could house the applications and hold the data. But then, once again, communication technology stepped in with the development of the Web and broadband, this time providing the power to link the small systems to bigger servers where masses of data and then massive processing power could reside. The Web made it clear that centralization and linking still had major advantages, allowing, among many other things, ecommerce and the notion of a worldwide library represented by sites like Wikipedia.
The modern definition of cloud computing is defined generally as the providing of computing resources, including both hardware and software, over the Internet. A more detailed definition, by the U.S. National Institute for Standards in Technology, includes the following characteristics for cloud computing:
• On-demand self-service, meaning you can access remote computer power when you want it, with no human intervention
• Broad network access, meaning you can get to it in many available ways, such as a laptop or mobile device
• Resource pooling, meaning that hardware and software resources are dynamically shared
• Rapid elasticity, meaning computer capabilities can be quickly scaled up or down as needed, invisible to the user
• Measured service, meaning the services provided are monitored, for accurate accounting and providing of services
In the case of GlobalWise Investments, and their subsidiary Intellinetics, cloud processing means that their public and private clients can securely store and access critical documents on a 24/7 basis, from virtually anywhere in the world. The company’s advanced Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software is designed to help organizations of any size better handle the often overwhelming amount of information that is an unavoidable part of today’s world.
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