Cloud Essentials in Human

by Luc Van Haver

When you ask around about the meaning of Cloud Computing, you may expect a wide variety of answers, from fluffy descriptions by self-declared experts covering a lack of knowledge to in depth technological explanations masking specific vendor solution sales.

Yet there is only one more or less world-wide accepted official description, published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Not an easy exercise, since the one below is the 16th and final version of their 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.” (Source: NIST-USA 2011).

This means we can use the term Cloud Computing when it meets the five essential characteristics described in the definition:

 

Resource Pooling: a variety of consumers has access to the resources in a virtual way (multi-tenant) and they have no or limited control over the physical location of the resources. Resources typically would be virtual machines, storage, networking, databases, bandwidth, software,…

On-demand Self Service: the consumer activates the resources without human interaction from the provider. A self-service tool is installed to obtain the required resources.

Broad Network Access: the chosen resources (capabilities) are available over a network and accessible through certain standard tools like a workstation, a thin client, a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone.

Rapid Elasticity: the resources can be elastically provisioned, in some cases manually or sometimes even automatically, to meet the requirements of the customer. The outward and inward scaling can be realized rapidly.

Measured Service: the usage of the resources is measured and can be monitored and controlled to the benefit of both provider and consumer.

 

If the story you are being told matches the characteristics above, it’s a true cloud story. If not, it is probably fog…

Of course there are several Cloud Deployment Models, but that’s another story I’ve written here