In a conversation with financial analysts, Larry Ellison reportedly claimed that he unintentionally invented the idea of "cloud" computing. We certainly know that the most genius inventions often come unexpectedly. It was similar case with Ellison's cloud: The self-pronounced cloud visionary said that he founded the first cloud computing company in 1998: It was called NetSuite and was, according to Ellison's recollection, the first cloud computing company. All that NetSuite lacked was the cloud moniker in its sales pitch.
That is, for example in stark contrast to companies such as Rackspace, which calls itself the "Open Cloud Company".
Ellison's modesty is only trumped by Al Gore claiming stakes in "creating" the Internet. While the former U.S. vice president never claimed that he invented the Internet, he made a clumsy and bold statement that he "took the initiative in creating the Internet" during an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer in 1999.
Admittedly, Ellison was one of the pioneers of commercial cloud computing and pitched, for example the idea of its $200 NC (network PC), a thin client computer, back in 1996 at Comdex Spring in Atlanta. Essentially, the NC was designed to work in a cloud computing environment. But it that early enough to claim the "invention" of cloud computing? Nope.
Famed computer scientist Jon McCarthy said in 1961 that computers may one day operate in a network similar to a public utility. Of course, he did not know the buzzword we would come up with to describe this technology (HP and IBM, by the way, used the term "enterprise utility computing" in an effort to sell what we call cloud computing today in 2006 to 2008).
Ellison's claim of founding the first cloud computing company in 1998 is also false. NetCentric attempted to trademark "cloud computing" in 1997. It has taken some time for the idea to propagate and we remember Google's Eric Schmidt to be the first who described "cloud computing" as we understand it in a mass market model today.
The executive was quoted saying at the 2006 Search Engine Strategies:
"What's interesting [now] is that there is an emergent new model, and you all are here because you are part of that new model. I don't think people have really understood how big this opportunity really is. It starts with the premise that the data services and architecture should be on servers. We call it cloud computing – they should be in a "cloud" somewhere. And that if you have the right kind of browser or the right kind of access, it doesn't matter whether you have a PC or a Mac or a mobile phone or a BlackBerry or what have you – or new devices still to be developed – you can get access to the cloud. There are a number of companies that have benefited from that. Obviously, Google, Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon come to mind. The computation and the data and so forth are in the servers."