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According to the NIST Cloud Computing Definition, Cloud computing

is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool o


f configurable
computing resources (such as, networks, servers, storage, applications, and ser
vices) that
can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort
or service provider interaction.
While there are other ways of describing cloud computing, the NIST cloud model i
s a widely
used mechanism for describing how various cloud networks are configured and used
. This
model helps users and providers communicate with clarity and precision.
The NIST cloud model can be best understood by considering its five essential ch
aracteristics;
there are also three service models, and four deployment models associated with
the NIST
cloud model. All of these will be discussed in this course.
Before describing the NIST computing model and the different ways that clouds ar
e used,
lets address the question why is there so much excitement about cloud computing?
The value proposition of cloud computing is that it allows computer users (also
referred
to in this course as customers or consumers) to conveniently rent access to appl
ications,
software development and deployment environments, and computing infrastructure s
uch
as data storage and processing. This potential can yield cost-effective solution
s to those
consumer organizations that might not have the capital to purchase large enterpr
ise software
solutions or set up large computing hardware and software infrastructure.
The value proposition is also compelling for software, hardware and systems vend
ors that
now have an alternative to selling relatively expensive products to smaller and
possibly
more budget-conscious customers.
It has been predicted that the new products and services created by cloud comput
ing could
produce $1.1 trillion a year in new business revenues and spending on
public and private IT cloud services will generate nearly 14 million jobs worldw
ide
according to a study by the analysis firm IDC.
There is nothing particularly new about the concepts underlying cloud computing.
Programming language innovator and computing pioneer John McCarthy introduced a
model of
shared, virtualized resources that he called utility computing in a 1961 presentat
ion.
Through the 1960s and 70s, large banks of computers provided so-called time-sharing
services to local and remote users.
In the 1980s and early 90s large distributed data centers became commonplace in la
rge corporations.
And through the early new millennium until today Internet-enabled software as- a
-service
models and virtualization of resources continues to be improved and rebranded. T
oday we call
these services cloud computing.
While the concepts of cloud computing are not new, what is new, however, is that
faster
data communications capability, faster and more reliable computing power, denser
and

cheaper storage, and new programming paradigms have enabled comprehensive comput
ational resource-sharing
to become vast, pervasive and economical.
Since cloud computing is simply a manifestation of the natural evolution of comp
utational
resource-sharing over many decades, how then can we characterize cloud computing
in a way that differentiates it from simple networking? The following five charact
eristics
are useful in distinguishing cloud computing.
On-demand self-service. That is, a consumer can unilaterally provision computing
capabilities,
such as server time and network storage, as needed without requiring human inter
action
with the service provider.
Broad network access. Here capabilities are available over the network and acces
sed through
standard mechanisms that promote use by different thin or thick client platforms
, such as mobile
phones, tablets, laptops, and workstations.
Resource-pooling. That is, the providers computing resources are comingled to ser
ve
multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtu
al resources
dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand. There is a sen
se
of location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowle
dge over
the exact location of the provided resources but may be able to specify location
at a higher
level of abstraction, country, state, or datacenter. Examples of such resources
include CPU, data
storage, memory capacity and network bandwidth.
Rapid elasticity. Here, capabilities can be reconfigured, in some cases automati
cally,
to scale rapidly outward and inward in response to changing demand. To the consu
mer, the capabilities
available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be acquired
at any time.
Measured Service. This characteristic refers to the ability of cloud systems to
automatically
control and optimize resource utilization through monitoring, measurement and re
porting
of cloud attributes, for example storage capacity, processing power, network ban
dwidth, and number
of active user accounts.