The Internet has its roots in the 1960s, but it wasn't until the early 1990s that it had any relevance for businesses. The World Wide Web was born in 1991, and in 1993 a web browser called Mosaic was released that allowed users to view web pages that included graphics as well as text. This heralded the first company web sites – and not surprisingly, most of these belonged to companies involved in computing and technology.
As Internet connections got faster and more reliable, a new type of company called an Application Service Provider or ASP started to appear. ASPs took existing business applications and ran them for their customers. The ASP would buy the computing hardware and keeping the application running, and the customer would pay a monthly fee to access it over the Internet.
But it wasn't until right at the end of the 1990s that cloud computing as we know it today appeared. That's when salesforce.com introduced its own multi-tenant application which was specifically designed:
- to run "in the cloud";
- to be accessed over the Internet from a web browser;
- to be used by large numbers of customers simultaneously at low cost.
Since then the cloud has grown and grown: in 2013 worldwide spending on cloud services ran to an estimated $47 billion. And that's set to more than double to over $108 billion by 2017 as companies invest in cloud services as the foundation for new, competitive offerings.