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Cloud computing remains the buzzword winner of the current technology paradigm. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines cloud computing broadly as "A model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (for example, networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction." NIST further describes cloud along three axes: characteristics, deployment model, and service model. This provides a rather bewildering matrix of possible implementations of cloud. However, by focusing on the characteristics that NIST defines, GP can see how close to an "Ideal" cloud implementation one organization can perform.
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