The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST),Information Technology Laboratory offers this definition of Cloud Computing. It’s as good as any.
"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. The cloud model of computing promotes availability."
On-demand self-service. A consumer armed with an appropriate delegation of rights (permission) can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed and automatically, without requiring human interaction with each service’s provider.
Broad network access . Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, laptops, and PDAs).
Resource pooling, The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand. There is a sense of location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources but may be able to specify location at a higher level of abstraction (e.g., country, state, or datacenter). Examples of separately allocable resources include storage, processing, memory, network bandwidth, and virtual machines.
Rapid elasticity, Capabilities can be rapidly and elastically provisioned, in some cases automatically, to scale out quickly and then rapidly released to scale in quickly. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be purchased in any quantity at any time.
Measured service, Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.
Cloud Service Models
The three service models defined by NIST are essentially a hierarchy:
Four models of cloud deployment are recognized by NIST.
Cloud software takes full advantage of the cloud paradigm by being service oriented with a focus on statelessness, low coupling, modularity, and semantic interoperability.
Advantages of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing offers a number of advantages when compared with remote- or self-hosting:
Cloud computing logical diagram
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