The cloud is on everybody’s lips these days. What exactly does that mean? Turns out there’s a simple clear definition. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology created it, although, there is nothing US specific about it. Here it is, cloud computing as a way of using I.T. that has these five equally important traits. First, you get computing resources on-demand and self-service. All you have to do is use a simple interface and you get the processing power, storage, and network you need, with no need for human intervention. Second, you access these resources over the net from anywhere you want. Third, the provider of those resources has a big pool of them and allocates them to customers out of that pool. That allows the provider to get economies of scale by buying in bulk and pass the savings on to the customers. Customers don’t have to know or care about the exact physical location of those resources. Fourth, the resources are elastic. If you need more resources you can get more, rapidly. If you need less, you can scale back. And last, the customers pay only for what they use or reserve as they go. If they stop using resources, they stop paying. That’s it. That’s the definition of cloud.