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Critical AnalysisPlease compare, contrast, and provide insight to some of the decisions made from ONE the following case studies’ data:“City of Pittsburgh goes to the cloud: a case study of cloud solution strategic selection and deployment” OR“SurveyMonkey in 2014”Be sure to make observations from all discussions and readings to date.This Critical Analysis is due on Saturday at 11:55pm Pacific in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format. Please post your final case memo in the Assignments under ‘Critical Analysis’.Critical Analysis CoachingThe goal is that the process of writing the critiques will contribute significantly to your learning and understanding of the course content.Critical analysis must be a personal reflection upon what you have learned from the readings.Reflect on the business implications and management recommendations that arise from these lessons that are relevant to the topics of the segment to which the readings are assigned.A critical analysis is NOT a summary of the individual readings – you may choose to open your critiques with a short (6-10 line) paragraph that identifies the main lessons from the readings.Your critiques should integrate and analyze the lessons, arguments, similarities, contradictions, conclusions, and implications contained within and most importantly across the assigned readings for that segment’s topic. Critical analysis can be POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE. You may agree or disagree with the lessons contained in the readings, but you must support your opinion with informed argument.


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Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management (March 2014) 15(1):59–68
DOI 10.1007/s40171-013-0055-4
Characteristics of Cloud Computing in the Business Context:
A Systematic Literature Review
Mark Stieninger • Dietmar Nedbal
Received: 13 September 2013 / Accepted: 17 December 2013 / Published online: 8 January 2014
Global Institute of Flexible Systems Management 2014
Abstract Cloud Computing services have become more
cost effective and technically flexible than traditional
solutions. Therefore they are gaining more and more
attention among organizations. But there is still disagreement about the exact meaning of Cloud Computing. This
paper evaluates the current status concerning the conceptualization of Cloud Computing research by reviewing
and classifying existing scientific literature. A comprehensive analysis of the Cloud Computing literature is
drawn by identifying and discussing core concepts and
characteristics within that literature. The paper concludes
with possible further research areas in the field of Cloud
Computing from a broad perspective.
Keywords Cloud characteristics Cloud Computing
Literature review
For a couple of years the use of Cloud Computing services
has been influencing the IT landscape (Repschläger et al.
2012). Due to the availability of complex cloud based
information systems (such as enterprise resource planning,
customer relationship management, document sharing, collaboration and communication systems), Cloud Computing
M. Stieninger D. Nedbal (&)
Digital Business, University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria,
Wehrgrabengasse 1-3, 4400 Steyr, Austria
e-mail: [email protected]
M. Stieninger
e-mail: [email protected]
has gained increased attention and diffusion among organizations (Opitz et al. 2012). Supporting all kinds of different
service scenarios, the dynamic purchase and procurement of
resources in the cloud has become much more cost effective
and technically flexible than traditional solutions (Weinhardt
et al. 2009; Amato et al. 2014). Flexibility, defined as ‘‘the
ability to respond quickly to changing capacity requirements’’, has been identified by science and industry as a
relative advantage of Cloud Computing (Repschläger et al.
2012). Nevertheless, a recent study concerning the attitude of
decision-makers towards Cloud Computing in German
companies revealed that there is a growing group of both
supporters and opponents. The group of supporters grew
from 28 percent to 35 percent, and the group of opponents
grew from 38 to 44 percent from 2011 (sample size n = 411)
to 2012 (sample size n = 436) as well (KPMG 2013) As a
consequence of this the only shrinking group is the group of
One possible reason for these different attitudes and
polarizing opinions is the disagreement about the exact
meaning of Cloud Computing among basic and applied
researchers. Due to the rapid development of information
technology in general, this often conflicts with the formation of a solid, systematic and consistent concept (Thomas
2005). This especially applies to Cloud Computing,
because it is developing at a very fast pace.
Another aspect is the complexity of innovative technologies and services. Viewing Cloud Computing from a
technical perspective may be too narrow to comprehensively analyze such a complex innovation. Instead, complexity can originate from many other sources than the
service system itself (Benedettini and Neely 2012). In IS
research, such systems are considered as socio-technical
systems involving technological components as well as
people and the organizational environment interacting with
Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management (March 2014) 15(1):59–68
it (Picot and Baumann 2009; Orlikowski 1992; Belfo
2012). We follow this research discipline and see Cloud
Computing as a concept involving engineering as well as
various management aspects. Thus, it needs a socio-technical approach to assess its characteristics from a holistic
The main objective of this paper is to identify the current status of the conceptualization of Cloud Computing
research. Therefore, an overview of the term Cloud Computing itself based on existing literature needs to be created
to establish an integrated and broad understanding of the
abstract concept. Furthermore, it is important to identify
the core concepts and components used within literature in
order to address further research by classifying the literature (Brooks et al. 2010). For example, Yang and Tate
(2012) identified relevant topics such as technological
issues, business issues, conceptualization of Cloud Computing and domains and applications across the literature.
Another literature review on the use of Cloud Computing
in the public sector was provided by Tsaravas and Themistocleous. They identified benefits and obstacles for
e-government (Tsaravas and Themistocleous 2011).
Despite the existence of literature reviews on this topic,
there is still a lack of reviews with a focus on definitions
and characteristics of the term Cloud Computing.
The remainder of the paper is structured as follows.
Section ‘‘Research Methodology’’ outlines the research
methodology. Section ‘‘Concept-Centric Literature Overview’’ provides a concept-centric overview of the literature
considered for this research. Section ‘‘Discussion of
Research Topics’’ discusses the findings of the analysis
concerning conceptual topics within the literature. This
followed by an assessment of. Conclusions concerning the
current state of Cloud Computing research and recommendations for the need of further research are drawn in
‘‘Conclusion’’ section.
Research Methodology
The systematic review of relevant literature is an established research methodology that supports the development
of theories. Reviews provide overviews of certain objects
of research and identify areas where extensive research has
already been done or where there is a lack of research
results (Webster and Watson 2002; Schryen 2010). The
research methodology followed Webster and Watson and
included the following steps: (i) identification of relevant
literature sources; (ii) selection of relevant articles; (iii)
classification of the literature according to concepts; (iv)
discussion of findings and implications for future research.
In the first step relevant literature sources had to be
identified. Because of the timeliness of the topic both
papers in peer reviewed scientific journals and conference
proceedings were considered for the review. Literature was
divided into the two categories basic research and applied
research according to Brooks et al. (Brooks et al. 2010).
From the perspective of the applied research literature the
authors concentrated on peer reviewed practitioner related
journals and professional papers. Relevant papers were
found in Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery (CACM), Communications of the Association for Information Systems (CAIS), CIO Magazine (CIO
Mag.), IEEE Spectrum (IEEE Spec.), and HMD, which is a
relevant German journal for applied research.
For the literature targeting on basic researchers we
considered papers from the premier academic IS journals
which are the Journal of Management Information Systems
(JMIS), Journal of the Association for Information Systems
(JAIS), Management Information Systems Quarterly
(MISQ), Information Systems Research (ISR), European
Journal of Information Systems (EJIS), the Information
Systems Journal (ISJ), and Management Information Systems Quarterly Executive (MISQ Exec.) (Brooks et al.
2010). As already stated, we additionally included proceedings of the widely recognized IS conferences the
International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS),
the Hawaii International Conference on System Science
(HICSS), the Pacific Asia Conference on Information
Systems (PACIS), and the America‘s Conference on
Information Systems (AMCIS).
For the selection of relevant articles we used the online
archives of the journals/conferences and their search functions provided. In the first round we searched for articles
containing the keyword ‘‘Cloud Computing’’ within the
title. In this way, 86 papers were identified. After a stepwise
refinement towards papers that aim at providing a general
understanding of different conceptual areas a total of 21
were considered as relevant for this review. The review does
not include papers that focus on a certain application
domain, or a specific technical asset of it.
A structured approach of literature reviews implies to
synthesize the source material according to concepts
(Webster and Watson 2002). In the course of this review
nine essential concepts were identified. These concepts
were discussed and implications for future research were
identified as final step in this review.
Concept-Centric Literature Overview
In this section an overview of the analyzed papers and
articles is provided. The overview is concept-centric and
divided into two parts. At first, the literature targeting on
applied researchers and practitioners (‘‘applied literature’’)
covering twelve papers is presented in Table 1. The second
Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management (March 2014) 15(1):59–68
table covers nine papers for the academic community
(‘‘basic literature’’).
The papers mainly deal with nine topics in the context of
Cloud Computing. Twelve papers explicitly address definitions of Cloud Computing and nine papers refer to the
definition of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Further emphasis is given on success factors, potentials and challenges, requirements, consequences,
risks, decision guidance, business models, and provider
topics. These topics are discussed in the following.
Definitions As already stated, one focus of this paper is
to provide a broad definition of Cloud Computing across
the literature. Therefore special attention was given to
explicit definitions of the term Cloud Computing within the
papers. As the NIST definition of Cloud Computing (Mell
and Grance 2011) turned out to be the most widely used
definition, this is subject to further investigation. The NIST
definition is used both as working definition and as starting
point for providing extensions within the literature. The
sources which are oriented towards the NIST definition are
marked separately (column ‘‘NIST oriented’’). Besides this
predominant definition there are several different approaches to define Cloud Computing (Armbrust et al. 2010;
Creeger 2009; Fogarty 2009; Repschläger et al. 2010;
Linthicum 2009; Leimeister et al. 2010; Son et al. 2011)
which were regarded as relevant and thus included within
this investigation (Table 2).
Potentials and challenges The adoption of Cloud
Computing entails both potentials and challenges. It is
crucial to be aware of these in advance to gain benefit in
the long term (Armbrust et al. 2010; Creeger 2009; Garrison et al. 2012; Hayes 2008; Fogarty 2009; Repschläger
et al. 2010; Hoberg et al. 2012; Marston et al. 2011; Iyer
and Henderson 2010).
Success factors Successful adoption of technological
innovations like Cloud Computing depends on certain
factors originating from different areas within the companies. Regarding the polarized attitudes among companies
concerning Cloud Computing (KPMG 2013) it is essential
to identify relevant success factors to establish a willingness to adopt such solutions (Garrison et al. 2012; Creeger
2009; Iyer and Henderson 2010).
Requirements For a successful adoption and implementation of Cloud Computing solutions it is inevitable to
meet the requirements from the beginning. Therefore,
requirements have to be identified and prioritized (Creeger
2009; Garrison et al. 2012; Walterbusch and Teuteberg
Consequences The adoption of Cloud Computing solutions causes multiple changes in different areas of companies. These consequences of adoption vary in their
severity. They have to be considered in an early phase
within the adoption process to make appropriate arrangements in a timely manner (Creeger 2009; Cusumano 2010;
Table 1 Applied literature
Concept focus
NIST oriented
Potentials and
Requirements Consequences Risks
Armbrust et al.
Garrison et al.
Yang & Tate
CIO Mag.
Repschläger et al.
Walterbusch et al.
Pröhl et al.
IEEE Spec.
Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management (March 2014) 15(1):59–68
Table 2 Basic literature
Concept focus
NIST oriented
Potentials and
Requirements Consequences Risks
Hoberg et al.
CC Journal
Leimeister et al.
Marston et al.
AlZain et al.
Kaisler et al.
Iyer et al. (2010)
Son & Lee (2011)
Son et al. (2011)
Pröhl et al. 2012; Hoberg et al. 2012; Leimeister et al.
2010; Son et al. 2011; Son and Lee 2011).
Risks The adoption of Cloud Computing might involve
certain risks which have to be kept in mind too (Fogarty
2009; AlZain et al. 2011).
Decision guidance Decision support is an important part
in Cloud Computing literature. Especially due to the great
variety of application areas it is helpful for companies to
receive guidance concerning their decisions (Marston et al.
2011; Kaisler et al. 2012; Iyer and Henderson 2010; Son
et al. 2011).
Business models The topics named so far have their
impact mainly on the customer side of the Cloud Computing relationship. The topic of business models is aimed
at the provider side. New forms of service deployments
also carry new opportunities and potentials. Therefore it is
necessary to establish new business models (Brynjolfsson
et al. 2010; Repschläger et al. 2010; Walterbusch and Teuteberg 2012).
Provider topics Additional topics besides the business
model which are mainly interesting for the Cloud Service
Providers (CSP) include affordable land, available fiberoptic connectivity, abundant water, and inexpensive electricity. These topics need to be considered too (Katz 2009).
Discussion of Research Topics
This section discusses the main contents of the articles.
Table 3 shows the distribution of the articles by topics
whereat one article may belong to multiple categories.
In the following subsections the particular topics are
detailed on the basis of the analyzed literature.
Because of the importance of the NIST definition (Mell and
Grance 2011) of Cloud Computing in general a brief
summary of this definition is provided in the following.
Furthermore the NIST definition provides an overview of
the core components of Cloud Computing. After that,
additions from both categories are provided.
Mell and Grance (2011) define Cloud Computing as ,,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. This cloud model is composed of five essential
characteristics, three service models, and four deployment
models. In the following the central elements of this definition are described.
Essential characteristics The first characteristic mentioned is on-demand self-service. This means, that provision of computing capabilities is done automatically and no
active interaction is required. The second characteristic,
broad network access, implies that services are provided
over the network and available for different platforms.
Resource pooling indicates that multiple consumers share a
common pool of services which is allocated dynamically.
Rapid elasticity means that resources are provisioned and
released rapidly or even automatically depending on the
Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management (March 2014) 15(1):59–68
Table 3 Overview of research topics
5 (42 %)
7 (78 %)
12 (57 %)
NIST oriented
4 (33 %)
5 (56 %)
9 (43 %)
Success factors
2 (17 %)
1 (11 %)
3 (14 %)
Potentials and challenges
6 (50 %)
4 (44 %)
10 (48 %)
3 (25 %)
0 (0 %)
3 (14 %)
3 (25 %)
4 (44 %)
7 (33 %)
Decision guidance
1 (8 %)
0 (0 %)
1 (11 %)
4 (44 %)
2 (10 %)
4 (19 %)
Business models
3 (25 %)
0 (0 %)
3 (14 %)
Provider topics
1 (8 %)
0 (0 %)
1 (5 %)
demand. The fifth characteristic is measured service: The
use of resources is managed automatically and can be
monitored in a transparent way by the consumer and the
Service models Software as a Service (SaaS) provides
applications and software for the user. The user has various
configuration possibilities (e.g. through a web browser, or a
programming interface) but no control of the underlying
infrastructure. With Platform as a Service (PaaS) the user
has access to a basic infrastructure including an operating
system where applications can be run and configured. The
third service model, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS),
provides basic hardware and networking resources only
which the consumer can use for running operating systems
and applications independently.
Deployment models Finally the NIST definition lists
four deployment models to describe Cloud Computing. The
private cloud provides exclusive infrastructure to an
organization which is managed either by the organization
itself or by an external service provider. The community
cloud is exclusively allocated for a defined group of users
which may belong to different companies. The public cloud
is a model which provides services to the general public.
The last service model mentioned by Mell and Grance is
the hybrid cloud. It is a combination of two or more of the
other models which work independently from each other
but are connected to enable data and application portability
(Mell and Grance 2011).
From the perspective of applied literature some additional aspects should be considered. In the course of the
research these were clustered into four distinct categories:
financial, organizational, resource based, and ecologic
Financial characteristics The adoption of Cloud Computing can help to reduce huge initial capital expenditures
(CAPEX) which are often quite hazardous due to lack of
demand forecast (Creeger 2009). Cloud Computing
transforms those to operational expenditures (OPEX) by
introduction of the pay-as-you-go payment model. In this
model, customers benefit from demand oriented service
charges and reduced risk of expensive oversizing and too
narrow resource purchasing (Armbrust et al. 2010).
Another aspect mentioned is the assumption that services
meeting needs of a company are already available on the
market or are going to evolve over time. This allows them
to change the procurement strategy and adopt a philosophy
of ‘‘buy first, build second’’ (Creeger 2009). Thus, the
following characteristics should be considered within a
‘‘Big Picture’’ of Cloud Computing:

Procurement strategy (buy first, build second) (Creeger
Transformation of capital to OPEX (Creeger 2009)
Payment model (pay-as-you-go) (Armbrust et al. 2010)
Organizational characteristics Depending on the company that adopts Cloud Computing, the implementation of
a Cloud Computing solution leads to radical changes of the
process structure. IT departments have a great dem …
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