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Cloud computing is a disruptive technology with profound implications not only for Internet services but also for the IT sector as a whole. Its emergence promises to streamline the on-demand provisioning of software, hardware, and data as a service, achieving economies of scale in IT solutions' deployment and operation. This issue's articles tackle topics including architecture and management of cloud computing infrastructures, SaaS and IaaS applications, discovery of services and data in cloud computing infrastructures, and cross-platform interoperability. Still, several outstanding issues exist, particularly related to SLAs, security and privacy, and power efficiency. Other open issues include ownership, data transfer bottlenecks, performance unpredictability, reliability, and software licensing issues. Finally, hosted applications' business models must show a clear pathway to monetizing cloud computing. Several companies have already built Internet consumer services such as search, social networking, Web email, and online commerce that use cloud computing infrastructure. Above all, cloud computing's still unknown "killer application" will determine many of the challenges and the solutions we must develop to make this technology work in practice.
Date of Publication: Sept.-Oct. 2009