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While cloud computing may seem vague and confusing, the National Institute of Standards and Technologies recently completed a working definition for the term after years of work and 15 drafts.
According to the official NIST definition, “cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
• On-demand self-service
• Broad network access
• Resource pooling
• Rapid elasticity or expansion
• Measured service
• Software-as-a-service: A remotely hosted, on-demand version of software. Examples include the popular customer relationship management offering from Salesforce.com.
• Platform-as-a-service: Provides enterprises with the hardware and software to run applications. Prominent examples include Microsoft Azure and Google Apps Engine.
Proponents of cloud computing contend that by turning computing into a utility akin to electricity or water, enterprises that rely on it can save money and focus on their business.