the cloud: from artisanal to industrial (part 1)

The technology used for cloud computing was mostly developed in the 1990s and therefore had already been industrialized for many years:

  • virtualization of computer servers
  • e-commerce
  • immediate access to services
  • billing based on usage and number of users
  • capacity to scale up and down rapidly

sowing seeds in the cloud

So, what brought about the dawn of cloud computing? These important developments helped pave the way:

  • Minitel, France’s pre-World Wide Web online service launches in 1982, offering instant access to pay-as-you-go services, with prices ranging from free up to the equivalent of €76.22 per hour (in today’s currency)
  • virtualization techniques emerge with the success of software company VMWare, which starts up in 1998
  • usage-based and per-user billing as well as 24/7 service become part of many companies’ strategies, especially for telecom operators
  • e-commerce is popularized by Amazon in the late 1990s (today almost 30% of Christmas shopping is done online)

cloud computing is born

Uniting all these elements under the term “cloud computing”, however, only dates back to the second half of the 2000s.

At first a hot topic at industry conferences—a bit like big data today—cloud computing became a ubiquitous “C-level" seminar theme. At the same time, the first limited applications were launched.

Cloud technology was popularized by online pure players: Amazon, Google and Apple’s App Store. Indeed, in its infancy, cloud computing was very Californian.

cloud computing as a child

With varying success, companies have tested cloud computing to accomplish goals such as the following:

  • grow in emerging markets without costly data centers
  • back up PC user data
  • provide Messaging over IP and Voice over IP services to employees of newly acquired subsidiaries

Some have faced growing pains with the new model. Others have quickly realized that it can decrease capital expenditure, reduce fixed costs, eliminate unnecessary costs when scaling up or down, make it easier to manage services, and enable direct user billing.

cloud computing as an adolescent

In addition to these benefits, however, security, performance, and reversibility issues have emerged:

  • can I trace my applications and data in the cloud?
  • how do I know which data center / country my information is stored in?
  • can I retrieve my applications and data at the end of my contract?
  • since there is no cloud without a data transmission network, what guarantees do I have regarding the availability of the network and my applications?

To cite the theory of a famous industry analyst firm, the hype surrounding the cloud model’s launch was followed by a stage of disillusionment, during which its disadvantages appeared to outweigh its benefits. Today, we have reached the cloud’s industrial phase.

To learn more about the development of cloud computing, I invite you to read the rest of this post which will be published later this week.


image © Floki Fotos -

Axel Haentjens
Directeur des Partenariats Cloud et Services Digitaux d’Orange Business, ma mission est d’animer une communauté de partenaires pour développer des propositions de valeur commune à l’intention de nos grands clients français et internationaux. Entré en 1995 dans le Groupe Orange, j’ai été successivement Directeur Stratégie et Marketing de Transpac, Directeur du Marketing de Global One, Senior Vice President Strategy d’Equant, Directeur du Marketing et de la Communication Externe d’Orange Business, et plus récemment Directeur Marketing et International d’Orange Cloud for Business. En parallèle à mes différentes fonctions, je gère la Communication sur la Responsabilité Sociale d’Entreprise d’Orange Business depuis 2006.