Can you remember where you were or what you were doing when you first heard the word "cloud" used in relation to the Internet? I can't any longer. The cloud has become synonymous with all things Internet service-related. Storage, website hosting, virtual desktops, endpoint management—as the cloud has grown and matured the list of functions it supports just keeps growing.

Related: Cloud Storage: Tame Your Fears

Personally, I still think it's a pretty lame way to describe it. There have been jokes of all sorts around using the cloud as the term for Internet services, with most related to storms when the cloud is down. It doesn't take much to lose the connection with the cloud. The past couple years have shown that.

Still, no matter how you feel about the name or its intent, the cloud is progressing and improving. There have been significant advances in the cloud just over the last year, with the majority of the advances coming from Microsoft. Always slow to get started, Microsoft eventually accelerates and instead of copying already established technologies, they begin innovating. It reminds me of the Scooby Doo and Shaggy terror shuffle, where their feet move in place for a few seconds before they actually start their forward momentum.

Microsoft is building a rich stable of cloud services that are very close to completely mirroring the infrastructure and function of the corporate network. It won't be very long before you hear: "If you can do it within the corporate walls, you can do it in the cloud." And, of course, that will bring about even more cloud jokes. I can't wait.

Still, there's a few, very critical pieces that are important to be addressed before the cloud can be 100 percent trusted. No matter what the cloud can be made to do, if these components are not observed and resolved, the cloud is just a neat tool with promise.

This past week, Microsoft has attempted to identify some of those critical pieces and provide a report that details them, applies observations, and then suggests how the cloud has changed to address them. The pieces are:

  • security
  • privacy
  • risk management
  • policy
  • resiliency; and
  • organizational and industry trends.

It's an interesting report. I'm not sure I agree with all of it, however, the report is based on a survey tool Microsoft released in October of 2012 called the Cloud Security Readiness Tool (CSRT), so it's hard to disagree with survey results. Still, as we've all experienced watching the political world, any data can be manipulated to exactly match intent.

I suggest you grab the report and apply your own perspective to the results. You can find a link to the report and more information about what's included in it in the article "Microsoft Uses Security as the Latest Driver to Spur Cloud Adoption."