Cloud computing allows people to work and store information on the Internet, and access their documents anywhere. Whether you know it or not, if you've placed your photos on Flickr or started sharing files on Google Docs, you're already in the cloud.
Still a developing area, its ultimate strengths and weakness are not yet fully researched, documented, and tested. In an effort to make definitions of cloud computing less nebulous and bring better clarity to its potential, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a draft guide, NIST Cloud Computing Synopsis and Recommendations (Special Publication 800-146), giving recommendations on how and when cloud computing is an appropriate tool, and identifying areas for future analysis. NIST is accepting public comments on the draft through June 13, 2011.
According to NIST, attempts to describe cloud computing in general terms have been problematic because cloud computing is not a single kind of system, but rather spans a spectrum of underlying technologies, configuration possibilities, service models, and deployment models. As such, each organization's requirements call for different cloud technologies and configurations.
The document reviews the NIST-established definition of cloud computing, describes its current benefits and issues, and provides recommendations on how organizations should consider the opportunities and risks of cloud computing. NIST Cloud Computing Synopsis and Recommendation is available here. Public comments should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 13, 2011.