As Barb Darrow, who writes about cloud for GigaOm pointed out in an article this week, when Amazon announced Amazon Web Services back in 2006, nobody could have predicted how big it would become.

That’s because back in 2006 the idea of provisioning your infrastructure in what would be known as the cloud was for all intents and purposes a pipe dream. No IT pro in their right mind was going to put their infrastructure in the hands of an online book merchant. Of course, we all know what happened.

And this week, that little service that could turned 8 –and it’s a huge force that helped change the way we think of provisioning hardware, software and programming platforms. It helped change the business of enterprise computing and created entirely new businesses.

Think about it. Before AWS came along if you wanted to start a business like SnapChat, Uber or Airbnb; you needed a lot of capital. Having the idea wasn’t ever going to be enough because who could afford to build a datacenter with the capacity necessary to accommodate an ever-growing user base. You might get the capital to get started, but how you could you ever hope to scale as your business grew without constant infusions of new and large amounts of capital.

With cloud-based infrastructure, that problem went away because if you had an idea, all you needed was a laptop and a credit card and you could build it (assuming you or your friends had the programming skills to make it a reality) and it could scale to whatever needs you had.

As the cloud grew, we began to see the development of Software as a Service too. Instead of having to buy boxes or licences, you could provision software simply and easily and only pay for what you used. What’s more, as smart phones and tablets developed, you could get at your content and data on any device, anywhere anytime.

Finally, the programmers wanted a piece of this action too, and so platforms developed in the cloud too giving you access to services like databases, storage, security and authentication; and the platform has made it easier, cheaper and faster to create programs and access these services without a lot of heavy lifting.

As this was happening, there were other changes going on in the world. Mobile computing was becoming a force. People were beginning to use their PCs and laptops less and their tablets and smartphones much more. We realized we didn’t actually need a full-blown PC all of the time and the cloud helped drive this as people could access software and services and sync across devices effortlessly.

As this all played out, it had a tremendous impact on IT because suddenly users had these great mobile devices and easy-to-use and provision software and they weren’t entirely dependent on IT anymore. Suddenly they were demanding software at work that worked as well as the software they had on their mobile devices and at home. They were no longer satisfied with clunky enterprise software they had to fight to use.

And with that, the consumerization movement was born. All of this has been driven by the cloud and we can thank AWS for that because if they hadn’t had this vision, we probably wouldn’t be talking about this today.

Happy Birthday, AWS. You changed computing as we know it and revolutionized IT with a simple idea.

Photo Credit: Photo by Will Meredith on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 License