Global standards organisations have been attempting in recent years to define exactly what cloud computing is, removing some of the confusing jargon and trying to make it crystal clear what precisely this powerful and in-demand service is.

Many people in the business sector and elsewhere may already know that cloud computing is a fairly nebulous term for IT networks based in vast data centres where there are enormous computing advantages and large economies of scale – but it’s often the providers of these services who perplex, with unclear descriptions about what they offer.

Now, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), based in Geneva, Switzerland, and whose members are comprised of standards bodies in countries around the world, has come up with its own definition of cloud computing and what it does.

The ISO said it wanted to create “order out of chaos” in a cloud-computing landscape that’s altering the computer sector with its “game-changing technology”. With increasing numbers of data centres offering cloud services, it wants to impose a standard across all so that quality is maintained. IT professionals from more than 30 countries were involved in coming up with two new international standards for the cloud-computing sector, and the results are available in a paper entitled Cloud computing – Overview and vocabulary; it’s available here:

Basically, the ISO says that cloud computing is a “paradigm shift” in the provision of IT services and it could affect the way future networks and IT products are developed and operated. The ISO said it is trialling various service-level agreements as well as the handing of data across cloud-computing services.

Previously, the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US released its own definition of cloud computing, calling it, “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources … that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

One of the leaders in cloud computing in South-East Asia and around the world is Amazon Web Services; it defines cloud computing as “the on-demand delivery of IT resources and applications via the internet with pay-as-you-go pricing”. That’s about as clear as you can get.

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