Do you know the five characteristics of cloud computing? Not all businesses use on-premise systems. Research shows that nine in 10 businesses now use cloud computing. Before making the switch to cloud computing, though, you should familiarize yourself with its characteristics. There are five key characteristics that define cloud computing.

#1) On Demand

Cloud computing is on demand. In other words, it’s offered as a service that businesses — as well as consumers for that matter — can access whenever they please. Cloud computing consists of system resources, such as computing power and storage space. These resources are available on demand, so you don’t have to wait for them. As long as you are subscribed to a cloud computing service, you should be able to access resources from the provider’s cloud servers.

#2) Pooled Resources

Pooled resources is a characteristic of cloud computing. Cloud computing providers operate servers. Servers are essentially high-powered computers that provide resources. These resources are pooled in the sense that they are available to all customers. Neither you nor any other customer will have exclusive access to an entire server’s resources. Rather, the resources are pooled so that all customers can access them equally.

#3) Broad Network Access

Another characteristic of cloud computing is broad network access. As you may know, cloud computing is available over the internet. You can access it from a computer, tablet, smartphone or other internet-connected devices. You aren’t limited to using any single computer or device. With broad network access, cloud computing is readily available, assuming you are connected to the internet.

#4) Rapid Elasticity

Cloud computing features rapid elasticity. What does this mean exactly? Rapid elasticity refers to its ability to scale. Cloud computing resources aren’t fixed. Rather, the provider can scale them by adding new servers or upgrading existing servers. This is an example of rapid elasticity. It ensures that cloud computing can meet the ever-changing needs of businesses and consumers.

#5) Measured Service

Providers offer cloud computing as a measured service. When you subscribe to a cloud computing service, the provider will typically measure your usage. Usage can be measured in several ways. Many providers focus on bandwidth, for example. The more data you upload and download, the more bandwidth you’ll consume. Providers may also measure storage space and processing.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), there are five characteristics that define cloud computing. They include on demand, pooled resources, broad network access, rapid elasticity and measured service.