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Depending upon whom you talk to, Cloud Computing is either an overhyped term destined for obscurity or the greatest promise for the future of Information Technology. While certainly there is a great deal of fanfare associated with the Cloud, we believe that in the long run, this hype will prove to be well deserved. For those with a mandate to develop IT strategies or protect an organization's information assets, you have an obligation to adopt Cloud Computing carefully. However, in this period of highly disruptive Cloud technology and business models, you have a critical window of opportunity to develop a strategy to gain maximum benefit from a Trusted Cloud.

It is an important requirement to have a baseline understanding of the definition of Cloud Computing to comprehend why it is a significant and disruptive trend. At its highest level, Cloud Computing represents the inexorable movement towards transitioning computing from hardware and software that we procure with capital expenditures to a utility-like service that is "rented" as needed with operating budgets. The implication of Cloud Computing is that an organization eliminates waste by only buying the computing that is needed, as additional compute resources can be allocated dynamically.

This dynamism feeds new notions of business agility as organizations can be expected to apply "Just In Time" manufacturing concepts to computing over time. In fact this is not a theory, but small and medium enterprises with modest investments in legacy computing have adopted Cloud Computing aggressively and are putting competitive pressure on larger organizations to do the same.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a widely-adopted nomenclature for describing the different aspects of Cloud Computing. NIST has defined three major delivery models for the Cloud, known as the S-P-I model: Software as a Service (SaaS), which is a complete business application delivered as a service; Platform as a Service (PaaS), which enables rapid application development in the Cloud; Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which is simple Operating System (OS) and Storage capabilities delivered as a service. NIST further defines four major deployments of Cloud Computing: Public Clouds, Internet accessible services intended for a broad customer base; Private Clouds, which are deployed for a single organization; Community Clouds, which are designed for a limited number of related organizations, such as a supply chain; and Hybrid Clouds, any combination of the three previous Cloud deployment models.


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