Two key technologies were critical to the first formations of data centres. The first was the advent of personal computers (PCs), which proliferated as Microsoft’s Windows operating software became the global standard. The second was the development of the network system protocol by Sun Microsystems. Thereafter, microcomputers began to fill out mainframe rooms as servers, and the rooms came to be known as data centres.


Listed below are major milestones in the journey of the big data theme, as identified by GlobalData.

1943 – The UK developed the first data-processing machine to decipher Nazi codes.

1945 – ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer was completed.

1954 – The first fully transistorised computer used all transistors and diodes and no vacuum tubes.

1964 – The IBM System/360 family of mainframe computer systems was launched.

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1971 – Intel’s 4004 became the first general purpose programmable processor.

1973 – Xerox unveiled the first local area network (LAN) at Chase Manhattan Bank, connecting 255 computers.

1977 – ARCnet introduced the first LAN at Chase Manhattan Bank, connecting 255 computers.

1981- The PC era began.

1983 – IBM released its first commercially available relational database, DB2.

1989 – Implementation of the Python programming language began.

1998 – Carlo Strozzi developed NoSQL, an open-source relational database.

1999 – VMware began selling VMware Workstation, allowing users to set up virtual machines.

2002 – Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched as a free service.

2006 – AWS started offering web-based computing infrastructure services, now known as cloud computing.

2007 – Apple launched the first iPhone, creating the mobile internet as we know it today.

2010 – The first solutions for 100 Gigabit Ethernet were introduced.

2011 – Facebook launched the Open Compute Project to share specifications for energy efficient data centres.

2013 – Docker introduced open-source OS container software.

2015 – Google and Microsoft lead massive build outs of data centres.

2017 – Huawei and Tencent joined Alibaba in major data centre build-outs in China.

2018 – Leading data centre operators started the migration to 400G data speeds.

2018 – Silicon photonics technology started to positively impact data centre networking architectures.

2020 – Edge computing will revise the role of the cloud in key sectors of the economy.

2021 – Data centre speeds expected to exceed 1,000G.

2025 – Data centres will be increasingly on-device.

This is an edited extract from the Big Data in Defense – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.