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IBRS, along with many other organisations, has written extensively about “the cloud”. Every organisation selling a product and/or service puts its own spin on what the cloud actually is.

The appeal of cloud computing cannot be denied,and the buzz in the market for the last few years is evidence of the desire of IT organisations to find ways to deliver IT services that are: better,cheaper, more resilient, more secure, and moreuser friendly.

Cloud services are not similar to a highly virtualised internal IT operating environment, although cloud vendors may use virtualisation extensively. Nor are they similar to the tightly controlled experience of time-sharing on a mainframe back in the 1970s, although cloud vendors may price their services in a similar user-pays model. Even though webmail, a form of Software as a Service,has been available to consumers since the 90s, cloud vendors have moved well beyond that simple offering.

While there are excellent and crisp definitions of what the cloud should be, for example the definition provided by the National Institute of Standardsand Technology1 (NIST), what really makes cloud new is how the term itself has become both all encompassing, and yet completely useless at defining the nature of the service!

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