What is the Cloud? What do they mean when they say "To the Cloud" or "I'm in the Cloud" in those ads? The term is yet another chance for the tech crowd to add to the world vernacular. A cloud is the way you represent the Internet in a network diagram. Therefore, when something happens "in the cloud" it is happening using the Internet. When you store data and run applications directly on the Internet instead of programs on your computer you are working "in the cloud".
Cloud computing is the technology wave we are currently riding. It is moving at a rapid pace. It is also providing new options for Small Business by opening up access to tools and services at a reasonable rate with very little, if any, hardware and software investment.
If you haven't gotten to know much about cloud computing, take the time now. The paradigm shift is in progress. IBM expects cloud computing to add about $3 billion of net growth to its business by 2015. Microsoft signed a five-year deal with New York City in October to provide services in the cloud. Los Angeles is already working with Google to move services to the cloud. An industry giant and the two largest cities in the country making moves doesn't usually indicate a passing fad.
Chris Mankle writes an excellent analysis of Cloud Computing risks and rewards. I highly recommend the read to get a better understanding of what it means to your business.
Taking the Fear Factor Out of Cloud Computing
— It’s allowing organizations to free themselves from building and managing their own technology infrastructure and is changing how businesses operate. It touches everything from the software running desktop computers to complex business processes and foundational IT infrastructure.
The cloud has provided dramatic gains in efficiency and productivity. It has pervaded blogs, industry conferences and the minds of CIOs with its promise of adaptability, cost benefits and agility, but despite its advantages, some are still hesitant to get onboard due to its inherent risks. While some simply aren’t ready to take a leap of faith, they’re putting themselves at another kind of risk: losing ground to competitors that are taking the risk, and becoming more agile and flexible as a result.