In July 2009, Information Week published the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition of cloud computing as part of an article that confirms "...a growing number of federal agencies are plugging into the cloud."
The article defines cloud computing as "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."; in other words, easy access to applications and IT infrastructure, without a lot of hardware, software, or service provider overhead.
For those with concerns about security within the cloud, the article goes on to say that author Peter Mell, who hails from the NIST, and who recently spoke at the IT On A Budget Forum, called cloud security "a doable thing".
Because it can eliminate capital expense while providing improvements to business operations (read sales and profitability growth), the use of cloud computing is growing. A business owner's challenge will be to find the providers who can correctly implement cloud computing solutions that complement their business strategy.
Before taking steps to explore cloud computing solutions, I caution business owners to first have a defined and viable IT strategy that parallels their overall business strategy. While cloud computing offers many benefits, such as lower capital costs, faster implementation, easier application management, etc., without a defined IT strategy, cloud computing can wind up like many other failed IT initiatives – a costly project that ends with the business owner scratching their head and wondering "what went wrong?".
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