If you pay attention to the current marketing of some big tech companies, such as IBM and Microsoft, you will notice that more references are being made to "the cloud." This is another indication that cloud computing is not just for businesses anymore. Consumers are also recognizing the benefits that cloud computing can provide. Red Hat's chief executive officer, Jim Whitehurst, said that cloud computing is heavily dependent on open-source software and that 90 percent of today's clouds leverage some open-source software. Tim McElligott, Cloud Drives Red Hat Back to Asia, Billing World, Dec. 30, 2010. Accordingly, the issues involved with open-source software are something of which to be aware when working with cloud computing providers and businesses as well as with consumers.
There is no statutory definition of cloud computing, but the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce responsible for defining national standards and working to apply them globally, has defined cloud computing as "a model for enabling 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 of Cloud Computing [PDF], NIST. (Dec. 30, 2010).