Andi Mann, a vice president of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies and cloud pundit, pumps the brakes a little bit on this discussion though. "If you don't have all five (characteristics), then you're getting into semantics," he says. The real question, he says, is not whether the five check marks can be made to call something a cloud - it's whether IT is serving its users appropriately. "Sometimes 80 percent of cloud is good enough," he says. "What it's really all about is business service. Who cares what you call it; what you care about is that your customers, your business users have the resources they need."
Maybe the enterprise doesn't need elastic scalability because there are static workloads. It still has all the other benefits of a cloud - self-service, chargebacks, broad network access and a shared resource pool. But, it may not technically meet that NIST definition. "So, if you want to be technical, call it what it is: A highly efficient virtual environment," Mann says.
So where does all this cloud-washing come from? Staten says fundamentally IT administrators are scared of the cloud. Virtualization experts within the enterprise used to be the top-dogs; when resources were needed, they provisioned the capacity. Cloud is seen as threatening that model by giving users self-service and dynamically scalable resources. What's left for the virtualization expert to do?
Staten says that's the wrong way to think about it. There's still a lot for IT administrator set up, making sure the cloud has a catalog of options available to users, complete with the appropriate security protocols, resource availability and virtualization components. Admins must embrace that philosophy, because if they don't then users will access the resources themselves anyway, leading to the dreaded "shadow IT."
Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.