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The History and Future of Cloud Computing, and What It Means for CX

Braden Kelley
October 18, 2019

3 minute read

The beginning: 1960s and 1970s

Some would say that the history of cloud computing began with Remote Job Entry (RJE) in the 1960s, while others point to terminal computing in the 1970s as the beginning of cloud computing. Others still would say that the most credible claim might be General Magic’s development of Telescript, a precursor to Oracle’s Java, highlighted in the following quote from Andy Hertzfeld in a 1994 Wired magazine article:

“The beauty of Telescript, is that now, instead of just having a device to program, we now have the entire Cloud out there, where a single program can go and travel to many different sources of information and create sort of a virtual service. No one had conceived that before.”

Paving the way for innovation: 1980s – Early 2000s

While the 1980s and 1990s were primarily an era of walled garden online computing dominated by America Online and CompuServe in the United States, the late 1990s and early 2000s marked a shift in how people got on the internet. This shift led to the creation of cloud services, with email services like Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail paving the way for other cloud applications like Flickr, Napster, Windows Live, Office 365, and Google Apps. It also led to the creation of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings that allowed businesses large and small to take advantage of the scalability of cloud computing without upfront capital expenditures and ongoing maintenance requirements.

These cloud offerings were innovative because they gave new companies, primarily digital startups, a way to quickly provision and scale their offerings without having to purchase and configure a lot of computer hardware and hire a lot of technologists to manage their infrastructure. It offered startups around the world the ability to enter and disrupt industries in ways that were previously impossible because of the financial and human capital requirements.

There’s another benefit from this era of the cloud that has helped digital startups accelerate the pace of disruption and innovation: digital startups have been able to avoid installing disconnected legacy on-premise applications for business operations and instead adopt cloud Software as a Service (SaaS) to run their businesses. Again, without having to build and maintain the technology infrastructure to benefit from the applications.

Seeing the future today: 2019 and beyond

Modern cloud solutions go beyond what IaaS, standalone SaaS applications, Data as a Service (DaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS) can achieve individually and integrates them all together, simplifying infrastructure and connecting process flows – all with the goal of enabling organizations to innovate at cloud speed.

Benefits include:

  • Continuous access to the latest technology innovations
  • Re-deploying highly valuable technologists away from maintenance activities and toward quicker execution of strategically important digital activities
  • Quicker responses to changes in technology and customer expectations with greater visibility into customer needs and insights
  • When combined with increased collaboration and decision-making transparency, businesses can accelerate the speed of their innovation

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison famously once said, “When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts.” He also said, “See things in the present, even if they are in the future.”

With modern cloud offerings, now market leaders and startups alike can disrupt their industries and build the digitally-integrated businesses that customers expect.

Customers expect the companies they interact with to immediately know the content of every interaction they have had with the company in any communication channel.

Employees expect their employer to provide tools that allow them to not only exceed their customers’ expectations, but also to easily interact with their company and their benefits online, via mobile, and even voice with a familiar interface.

And companies want their field service technicians to get preventative maintenance recommendations via artificial intelligence, to have parts automatically replenished after a service is performed, and for machine learning to help identify potential product flaws requiring a redesign before they become a customer satisfaction and retention issue.

An integrated next generation cloud infrastructure and application suite makes this possible, with one source of truth for one seamless experience.

Where will the cloud take us next?

Braden Kelley
Braden Kelley is a Director of Innovation Services and Human-Centric Problem Solving at Oracle. Braden is the author of the best-selling books Charting Change and Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire, a popular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, and tweets from @innovate.
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