The popular clouds: what are they and where are they going?

Cloud computing and technologies are becoming increasingly popular. According to the Gartner market research company, global cloud technology market will grow by 16.5 percent this year and will reach the value of 204 billion US dollars (USD 175 billion in 2015).

So, what the so-called clouds are and where did they come from? The idea of cloud networks was first introduced in 1970 by an American Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider, who invested in the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). According to his vision, everyone could connect to the network and access both information and programs stored there.

Further development of cloud technologies was driven by an increasing expansion of the Internet and its ever-growing speed, and the progress of hardware (introduction of powerful processors, large capacity storage devices, virtualization technologies, etc.).

In 1999, was established; the company granted access to its software via website. It was the first company that offered its software as a service. In 2002, Amazon established its cloud service: it offered the opportunity for its customers to store their information and carry out other computing activities in a virtual server. In 2006, Amazon launched its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service: now, the customers were able to upload their software to the network and use it.

Google was another company that contributed greatly to the promotion and development of cloud technology: in 2004, it launched free Gmail service. The biggest web based e-mail service revolutionized the market and changed the idea that service user has to also be a payer.

Some analysts and cloud technology suppliers offer a narrow definition of the clouds. According to them, clouds are servers that are constantly connected to the Internet, offering paid storage space for files and programs, which can later be accessed by the users from any device with the Internet connection (computer, phone, tablet) after logging in with their login details. Now, however, the term has much wider meaning. Clouds are no longer seen as mere storage media. Today, they form a virtual infrastructure, which also covers remote maintenance of computer workstations. Servers used to store the customer's information are located in the service provider's premises, while employees connect to it via the Internet. Companies no longer have to purchase and take care of network devices and servers. All of this is taken care of by companies providing virtual services, while one-time and ongoing hardware maintenance costs have been transformed into a service with its price being equal to the extent of its use.

Servers used to store corporate data function reliably within a professionally equipped infrastructure. Data are stored in several locations with continuous backup of servers and networking hardware. If the company's needs have grown, it can buy additional virtual space and increase the number of rented equipment. This releases the company from the need to acquire additional equipment and expand its network. Network development, hardware replacement or updates usually mean additional costs and a lot of unnecessary trouble: dust, noise, interrupted work of employees. With cloud services, employees no longer need to leave their workstations.

Companies deploy cloud technologies to cut costs and improve operational efficiency, while hoping to achieve competitive advantage and increase in their income. Cloud solutions are most popular in Japan. They are also growing in popularity in the Asia-Pacific region and Western Europe. The highest growth rates are forecast for the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) sector. According to Gartner, in 2016, the volume of these services will grow by 38.4 percent.