‘Cloud computing’ can actually mean different things to different people, in part because the term itself has been used in a wide variety of contexts - some of which are less than completely accurate about the use and impact of the revolutionary IT services available through this relatively new medium. The definition of the term, however, has now become more solidified thanks to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which has at last released a final version of the document, "The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing”. The fact that this document is in its 16th version is proof enough that even experts have needed time to formulate a clear and concise definition.
According to Peter Mell, co-author of the report and a NIST computer engineer by trade, "When agencies or companies use this definition, they have a tool to determine the extent to which the information technology implementations they are considering meet the cloud characteristics and models. This is important because by adopting an authentic cloud, they are more likely to reap the promised benefits of cloud: cost savings, energy savings, rapid deployment, and customer empowerment." Mell added that a clear definition of the cloud could also help firms to use it more effectively for security purposes.
The report identifies five requirements a system must meet in order to be considered "cloud computing”. These include resource pooling, elasticity, on-demand service, network access by thick and thin platforms, and a metering service to optimize results.
An improved understanding of the cloud can assist enterprise management to better work with their managed services providers to match cloud computing to the institutional needs of the enterprise.