The Cloud comes down to Earth
Cloud computing traits
So what is the essence of "cloud" computing? A few common traits are:
On-demand self-service — A user can access computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed without interacting with service providers.
Broad network access — The services required are accessed through the network and by standard hardware (e.g., mobile phones, laptops and PDAs).
Resource pooling — The provider's computing resources (e.g., storage, processing, memory, network bandwidth and virtual machines) serve multiple consumers and are assigned according to consumer demand. The customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the resources.
Rapid elasticity — The amount of service provided, from the provider and users' point of view, can be rapidly scaled up and down, so that the amount of service used (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth and active user accounts) can be purchased as needed and monitored.
Cloud computing is a pay-as-you-go approach to IT, in which a low initial investment is required, which can be helpful when projects need to get off the ground quickly. It can be expanded as the system's use increases and can be reduced easily if use decreases. Cloud computing also is energy efficient because resources are only used upon demand rather than running a computer room 24/7 for only periodic use. Cloud computing systems provide quick response to emergency situations and free IT departments from maintenance of routine operations like email, enabling staff to spend more time on higher-priority tasks that require knowledge of local government operations.