2006: Storage in the cloud

Amazon announces remote access to low cost bulk storage

Cloud computing is the modern equivalent to time-shared computing of the 1960s where individual users could gain access to large scale remote computing and storage resources via a dumb terminal and modem over analog telephone lines at substantially lower capital cost than installing their own facilities. Today access is via the internet and the resources and services are far more sophisticated with hardware spread across multiple data centers around the globe. The most widely utilized cloud service by the typical consumer is low cost bulk storage. These services played an important role in contributing to a worldwide storage capacity of 295 exabytes of information (an exabyte is 1 followed by 20 zeros) estimated by USC scientists in 2011.

Online service providers such as CompuServe provided 128K of disk storage space to consumers in the early 1980s. AT&T offered web-based storage to individuals and businesses in its PersonalLink product beginning in 1994. Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced the Elastic Compute (EC2)/ Simple Storage Service (S3) as a commercial offering that allowed small companies and individuals to rent machines to run their own applications in the U.S. in 2006. Its web hosting, image hosting, and storage for backup systems is employed by businesses and commercial operators such as Dropbox and Pinterest.

Synergy Research Group reported that Amazon was the dominant cloud service provider in 2014 with a 30% share of a burgeoning $15 billion revenue market. Microsoft was second with 10% of the market but was growing rapidly. IBM was ranked third largest cloud operator with a 7% market share, followed by Google, Salesforce and Rackspace. Several of these and other vendors offer users free cloud storage up to certain capacities as a path to later use of paid services as their storage requirements increase.

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Rev: 9.11.15