What defines Cloud Computing

Another way to defining Cloud Computing is to list its characteristics and models. There are five essential characteristics, three service models and four deployment models defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)[1].

The essential characteristics are:

On-demand self-service

A client can provision computer resources without the need for interaction with cloud service personnel.[2] For example instead of calling a support employee of the vendor, the customer connects to a web interface online, configures the service as desired and then clicks ‘order’. At the vendor, this order is then handled in a completely automated process and the service is being deployed very quickly.


Broad network access

The broad network access is crucial for the consumers to access the cloud services. Additionally, the privacy and protection implication is the need to support security controls for access, confidentiality and integrity.[3]


Resource pooling

Resource pooling means that the “computing resources are pooled so the provider may use the same resources to provide service to many clients, shifting resources among these many clients as their demands change.” [4] If various customers use a shared application, there per definition is some sort of resource pooling mechanism used. The resource pooling technology can be based on virtualization technologies, but this is not a must.


Rapid elasticity

Capabilities can be rapidly and elastically provisioned to quickly scale out, and rapidly released to quickly scale in. These capabilities available for provisioning often appear to the consumer to be unlimited.[5] The scalability capabilities are one of the most important features when it comes to Cloud Computing sales.

Measured Service

“The provider automatically measures and monitors the activities to provide a transparent service.”[6]

[1] NIST (2011), http://1.usa.gov/eZ8PSn

[2] Cp. Sosinsky, B. (2011), p.17

[3] Cp. Halpert, B. (2011), p.104

[4] Gefen, D. (2011), p.37

[5] Cp. Mantri, A; et. Al. (2011), p.3

[6] Gefen, D. (2011), p.37

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