Cloud Computing, beginning with what it is and why Posted on April 26, 2012 by Tim Burke We’re seeing more and more interest in Cloud Computing of late — and some lingering confusion about both what it is and what Cloud options a small-to-midsize business really has these days. So buckle your seatbelts. I’m going to discuss Cloud, and in the process, I’ll lay out what I see as the benefits of Cloud Computing — especially when it’s done right. (And yes, I’ll get to that, too, so keep dropping by…) OK, so in the beginning there was Cloud Computing. Last year, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was kind enough to offer up a definition, which has since become something of a standard: “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.” NIST includes a bit of detail on five essential characteristics of Cloud Computing, which are: On-demand service — the ability to provision, monitor, and manage computing resources as needed without the help of human administrators, Broad network access — delivering computing services over standard networks (like the Internet) and heterogeneous devices, Rapid elasticity — the ability to quickly scale out and scale in IT resources, Resource pooling — non-dedicated sharing of IT resources across multiple applications and/or tenants, and Measured services — tracking the utilization of IT resource utilization by each application and/or tenant, generally for purposes of billing or chargeback. Cloud Computing is, in fact, a whole new way to do information technology that offers major benefits — like significant boosts in flexibility and scalability, reduced capital costs and operating costs, efficiency improvements, and more reliable redundancy and disaster recovery capabilities. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. First, it’s worth understanding a bit about what makes Cloud Computing different — which is what I’ll do in my next blog.