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Auditing Cloud Computing: A Security and Privacy Guide by Ben Halpert

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Chapter 1

Introduction to Cloud Computing

Omkhar Arasaratnam

Cloud computing has taken the IT world by storm. Often viewed as the utopia of utility computing, cloud computing offers flexibility and financial benefits second to none. It also lowers the entry point to high performance computing, allowing organizations to leverage computing power that they have neither the capital budget nor operational expertise to acquire. This chapter provides background as to where cloud computing came from, what cloud computing is, and discusses some of the advantages and challenges with cloud computing.

History

Computing has evolved significantly over the last 60 years. In the early days, a large central computer would be used by an entire company. This gradually evolved to departmental computers in the 1970s and later personal computers in the 1980s and 1990s. Although cloud computing is a new term, as a concept it was predicted by computer scientist John McCarthy in the 1960s. McCarthy asserted: “Computation may someday be organized as a public utility.”

McCarthy had the foresight to predict what we today refer to as cloud computing. In the mid-1960s, Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore famously predicted that the number of transistors (or computing power) that could be inexpensively placed on an integrated circuit would double every two years. This is commonly known as Moore's law. By the late 1990s, Moore's law had guided computing to heights beyond many organizations' predictions. Much of ...

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