What is the cloud? - Cloud definition

"What actually is the Cloud?" - I keep hearing this question everyday. The problem is that there is no single, official definition. Actually, there are as many definitions as people talking about that. The problem is that when we started using this term several years ago it had not clarified yet what does it mean and it meant a lot of different things. However, this period is over!

So what actually does the Cloud mean? I spent some time on clarifying it as a part of my PhD thesis and I prepared my own definition based on what I found in a number of books, articles and online resources. So basically it proceeds as follows:

Cloud is an ICT (Information and Communications Technology) infrastructure which is characterized by the following features:

  • it is completely transparent to users
  • it delivers a value to users in a form of services
  • its storage and computing resources are infinite from users' perspective
  • it is geographically distributed
  • it is highly available
  • it runs on the commodity hardware
  • it leverages computer network technologies
  • it leverages virtualization and clustering technologies
  • it is easily scalable (it scales out)
  • it operates on the basis of distributed computing paradigm
  • it implements "pay-as-you-go" billing
  • it is multi-tenant

Phew ;). Obviously not all clouds can be characterized by all of these features, but the most of them can. What actually is the Cloud then? I hope you will be able to answer quickly next time!


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