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Opportunities for improving IT efficiency and performance through centralization of resources have increased dramatically in the last few years with the maturation of technologies such as SOA, virtualization, grid computing, and management automation. A natural outcome of this is what has become increasingly referred to as "cloud computing", where a consumer of computational capabilities sets up or makes use of computing "in the cloud" (i.e. over a network) in a self-service manner, without direct involvement in how that computing is resourced. Initially referring to services provided by third-parties over the Web, cloud computing is now also evolving in a "private" variant whereby enterprises set up cloud-like, centralized shared infrastructure with automated capacity adjustment that internal departmental "customers" utilize in a self-service manner. Realization of efficiency, performance, and agility benefits is reinforcing this trend.
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