These days, people are constantly talking about “the cloud” (as in cloud computing). Did you ever wonder why they call it the cloud? According to Wikipedia, the origin of the term is unclear but they cite two possible sources dating to either 1977 or 1981. Since I joined a team that was using this term daily by 1982, I’m virtually certain that I have the answer. Even if one of my teammates wasn’t the originator, we must have been just few steps removed from the person who was.
I signed on at Bell Labs on June 1, 1982, joining the team that was responsible for designing and planning AT&T’s digital signaling network (AKA data network) to connect AT&T’s new digital telephone switches (computers with names such as the 1A ESS, the 1A Electronic Switching System). In this job, we drew computer network diagrams many times a day.
Back then, the most interesting thing about a network was the devices or people that were being connected. The specific topology of the network was usually not important. As such, we’d select icons to represent people and devices at the endpoint locations and then show them connected via a cloud. The exact routes used to cross the network were not relevant. In fact, we sometimes referred to the network as FDPs; fast (or fat), dumb pipes. In the network shown below, notice that we didn’t position the cloud as if it were in the sky. That’s not the way to think about it.
Today, computer networks contain far more than fast, dumb pipes but, as in 1982, the exact location of Google’s or Amazon’s or Apple’s servers still don’t matter to most people. As such, we still use the paradigm of “the cloud” for our computer networks. So now you know.
Next time, I’ll provide seven reasons why your business must embrace the cloud.The exact location of Google’s or Amazon’s or Apple’s servers still don’t matter to most people. As such, we still use the paradigm of “the cloud Click To Tweet