Cloud computing originated in the early years of the new millennium, but computing-as-a-service has been around much longer. It began in the 1960s, when computer bureaus would allow companies to rent time on their mainframes to accomplish vital computing tasks. The bureaus benefitted because it brought in additional capital during what would otherwise be computer downtime, and the businesses renting the computing time enjoyed the cost savings of not having to purchase, install, and maintain expensive and bulky computer hardware.
Naturally, over time computers became smaller, more powerful, and much more affordable. The rise of the personal computer led to the increase of corporate data centres, which allowed companies to store vast amounts of information onsite. However, as data became more valuable, and more closely tied into nearly every aspect of business, the need for more advanced data centres and computing tools once again became prohibitively expensive.
To offset these costs while still enjoying the benefits of big data, businesses once again turned to the possibility of renting computer access. But this time, data and services would be available over the internet. Cloud computing was born, and SaaS providers quickly stepped in to offer advanced computing solutions via cloud-based platforms and tools.