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In my session “Real World SharePoint for the Cloud” I spend some time helping those who attend to understand the key characteristics of the Cloud.

Taking things from first principles, let’s look at what “the Cloud” actually means.

With so many variations of definition, I figured it made no sense to re-invent the wheel, as I subscribe to the model proposed by NIST in their document “The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing” which I have linked to

The bottom line (according to NIST) is that for a solution to be “Cloud” then it needs to exhibit the following 5 characteristics:

  • broad access
    • accessible from anywhere in a device agnostic way
  • on-demand self-service
    • services or resources available when needed
  • resource pooling
    • core platform making use of shared infrastructure
  • rapid elasticity
    • service growth or shrinkage possible with minimal delay
  • measured service
    • service/resource provisioned in defined measurable units

I wholeheartedly agree with these definitions, but like to add a handful more for completeness:

  • the infinity perception
    • from the perspective of a customer (or user) Cloud services should be “infinite” allowing as much resource (compute, storage, user licenses, etc.) to be consumed as is required (not a title of a “big bang theory” episode)
  • latest & greatest
    • regardless of whether its SaaS (such as SalesForce.Com) or PaaS (such as Azure) the Cloud offering should be running the “latest and greatest” stable, tested revision of the product/platform
  • self-healing
    • Cloud environments should self-heal in the context of platform, rack, aisle, datacentre or network failure, outages (such as those made very public when Microsoft datacentres in the USA failed due to connectivity issues) should really be invisible to the end user/customer

I’m sure there are more characteristics I could add, but perhaps that would just be churlish.

more to follow…