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Technology Review's Briefings are primers on key emerging technologies that promise to be transformational in their impact.

Cloud Computing

Introduction

According to its advocates, cloud computing is poised to succeed where so many other attempts to deliver on-demand computing to anyone with a network connection have failed. Some skepticism is warranted. The history of the computer industry is littered with the remains of previous aspirants to this holy grail, from the time-sharing utilities envisioned in the 1960s and 1970s to the network computers of the 1990s (simple computers acting as graphical clients for software running on central servers) to the commercial grid systems of more recent years (aimed at turning clusters of servers into high-­performance computers). But cloud computing draws strength from forces that could propel it beyond the ranks of the also-rans.

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