Cloud computing (CC) is a computing paradigm which currently receives a lot of attention. Especially the public cloud model promises several business related benefits such as cost-reduction, enhanced flexibility and increasing agility. However, there are several issues that challenge the enterprise-wide usage of public clouds leaving the potential gains virtually untapped. It is assumed that realizing the business potential while simultaneously mitigating the inherent risks of cloud computing demands cloud-specific IT capabilities (CC capabilities). This research is set up to identify these critical capabilities. For this purpose, a conceptual model is developed that encompasses CC capabilities along the technological, human, and organizational dimensions. The model proposes that the degree to which a firm holds these capabilities is related to the degree to which a firm deploys and uses public CC resources in terms of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. As a further research, the conceptual model will be validated and refined via expert discussions. Next, the model will be applied in a quantitative study in order to reveal patterns on the relationship between CC capabilities and CC usage. We expect novel insights on how firms can exploit the benefits of CC.