In an effort to clear the air about cloud computing, Jim Haughwout followed the lead of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and developed several defining characteristics of an exceptional cloud offering.

Based on the guideline of the standards body, Haughwout wrote cloud services should display the characteristics of measured services, resource pooling, broadband network access, on-demand self-service and rapid elasticity. Therefore, when a provider exhibits all of these traits, it stands out from its virtual competitors.

IT experts say one of the unique benefits of the cloud is how quickly companies can make upgrades to computing processes, which the platform delivers virtually. Additionally, Haughwout claimed this has the potential to revolutionize enterprise computing.

"You no longer have to worry about capacity planning. If you suddenly get a surge in traffic [due to an emergency or unexpected popularity] the computing resources you need are automatically - and immediately - available. You avoid slow-downs, timeouts and outages that waste time, cause frustration and turn away customers," he wrote.

Depending on the industry, movement to the cloud may soon become a necessity for some companies. According to U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra, federal organiztaions need to implement a "cloud first" policy and migrate some of their IT resources to the platform by 2012.