I talk a ton about cloud computing here on TRB. The trouble I have in discussing it with clients who are not technologically inclined is really just getting across the definition itself.
The Wall Street Journal put up an article today with a really facile explanation of The Cloud and what it means for business owners:
Broadly speaking, any service or program sent over an Internet connection can be considered a cloud service. An outside vendor runs the servers and software, so the buyer doesn’t have to worry about the technical issues in-house—and can focus on its own business.
The services come in a number of forms. Many businesses are already familiar with one aspect of cloud computing: software delivered over the Web. Along with email services like Google Inc.’s Gmail, there are programs that help salespeople keep track of customer information, such as Salesforce.com Inc.’s software, and backup data-storage services from providers such as Amazon.com Inc.
Some businesses don’t just use software services, they buy computing power from vendors such as Verizon Communications Inc.—much like buying power from a utility. Let’s say a retailer expects lots of additional business during the holidays, and its in-house servers can’t handle the load of customer orders. The company might pay a vendor for the use of its servers, to shoulder part of the computing work as the need arises.
Other companies, meanwhile, might buy computing power on a regular basis. They might drop one or more in-house servers entirely—or not buy the hardware in the first place—and let a vendor run their vital programs on its machines. Once again, the buyer would pay a fee based on how much computing power it used.
If you’re a tech investor or run a business that seems to be more reliant on hardware and software each year, I would highly recommend reading the rest.
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