A new UK-based organisation seeks to cut through the hype surrounding cloud computing and Windows IT Pro readers are invited to its launch party.

The Cloud Circle describes itself as Britain's first independent business and IT-focused cloud computing community. It opened its virtual doors in December last year under the aegis of BI and corporate performance interest group Obis Omni. Initial response has been promising. Two hundred IT execs signed up to join within the first two weeks from firms at diverse as BP, DHL and Barclays.

The new body's evening launch reception will take place on February 23 at an as yet unspecified central London location . Attendance is free but tickets are apparently very limited so interested readers are advised to register and grab them while they can. The Cloud Circle will also be holding its first forum, "Getting to grips with the business-critical fundamentals of cloud computing", on April 20 at the Park Plaza Hotel, again in London.

The near hysteria surrounding cloud computing offers more than a few chuckles to old hands in the IT game. After all, it is not as if the concept is new. The problem is that the cloud label has been plastered on to so many products and services that the term itself is at risk of becoming nebulous.

The Cloud Circle has very sensibly nailed down its own definition from the off, saying: "A cloud service has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional hosting. It is sold on demand; it is scalable, so the user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and the service is fully managed by the provider".

As such, the user group says that it intends to provide a forum for its members to exchange ideas, expertise and best practices. Its aim is to help them understand the cloud's potential for their organisations, to evaluate key technologies and providers, and get the most from cloud deployments.

The Cloud Circle launch event will be hosted by founder Emma Taylor and will feature presentations and case studies followed by drinks. For further lowdown and registration, see The Cloud Circle's website.