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What is Cloud Computing: I’m Forming Up on the NIST View

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working on a definition of cloud

NISTcloudcomputingThe National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Information Technology Laboratory is working on a definition of cloud computing (version 14 of their working draft is on their site and is looking great).  Like other NIST efforts they have taken a collaborative/collegial approach in building this definition.  You can find the full definition at the NIST Computer Security Resource Center. The also provide a briefing titled “Effectively and Securely Using the Cloud Computing Paradigm” (by Peter Mell and Tim Grance of NIST, dated 6/26/2009).  That presentation gives a great overview of the models and methods for using clouds securely.

The short version of their definition is:

Cloud computing is a model for enabling 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.

I like that definition and I think it captures the key factors of my views of Cloud.  This seems to be in total harmony with the Amazon vision articulated as Elastic Computing (see Business Week of Nov 2006).  The definition is close enough to the definition I have been advocating (see Cloud Computing and Net Centric Operations).

NIST goes on to define five essential characteristics, three delivery models, and four deployment models.  All are provided at the NIST website.

For the record, I plan on using the NIST definition from now on.

Related posts:

  1. Cloud Computing vs. SOA: Look for a cross-over in hype
  2. Cloud Computing and Net Centric Operations
  3. Steve Ballmer and Cloud Computing

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of