People always show the progression of computing from Mainframes to distributed to the cloud and beyond. I wonder if that really is the reality we are in now.
Cloud is really a concept devoted to organizational efficiency, cost reduction and ultimately the improvement of computing services by removing the distributed chaos that many IT shops dread. (or you can call it migrations).
I think however the concept of computing has evolved differently than the concept of cloud’s evolution which is why we are at a junction now in the overall adoption of cloud.
My original computer program was printed on paper. My original class input into the computer for college was on cards. When I was a school teacher I built a HyperCard stack with my class on Dinosaurs. it spanned 28 3.5 floppies. We had another 28 as a full copy backup. It could take as long as 10 minutes of floppy swapping to actually load the entire program.
The floppy gave way to the hard drive. The hard drive gave way to the CD drive. The CD drive replaced the floppy when it became read/write. The DVD replaced the CD and the Blu-Ray disk replaced the DVD. All along in all those steps I had a device that could read and write the various media types. Now I tend towards USB keys and network storage (backed up to Carbonite of course).
Evolution as observed by Darwin was the alteration of a species to better reflect the environment (and in particular the food source) of that species. Soft beaked birds began eating harder nut shells and the beaks became harder. The evolution in computing has slipped by us without us realizing that the ultimate driver for computing is not the environment we are computing in but the ability to go grab what we were working on yesterday, easily.
I guess in the end what I am saying is Cloud, Client Server and even mainframe computing aren’t evolutionary steps. They are simply the end game of the evolutionary steps. The steps were floppy drives, laser disks, Blu-Ray disks and USB Keys. It was never about the computing environment it was about what we created with it.