NIST Releases Cloud Definition and Roadmap


NIST released their 16th and final definition of cloud computing

In October, after years of work and 15 drafts, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released their 16th and final definition of cloud computing (NIST Special Publication 800-145).

The new official NIST definition calls cloud computing a "model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction."

The NIST definition lists the five essential characteristics of cloud computing as on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity or expansion, and measured service. It also lists three service models -- software, platform, and infrastructure -- and four deployment models -- private, community, public, and hybrid -- that categorize ways of delivering cloud services. The final cloud definition is substantively the same as the working version that has been the unofficial standard since 2009.

Additionally, NIST has released the first two (of three) volumes of the US Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap (NIST Special Publication 500-293) for public comment. This document is designed to support the secure and effective adoption of the cloud computing model by federal agencies to reduce costs and improve services.

Volume I provides an overview of the roadmap initiative, and volume II is a technical reference that is useful for those working on strategic and tactical cloud computing initiatives -- regardless of whether they work in government agencies. The public comment period is open through December 2.

Links to the documents and information on submitting comments can be found at and


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