Smart Computing: Sky's the Limit

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that “the cloud” is only for large companies; these days, even small businesses are heading for the cloud. In fact, if you’re using Office 365, Google Docs, or other Web-based services, you’re already relying on the cloud.

But let’s start by defining some terms. What is “the cloud,” exactly? Different people and companies define it differently. For our purposes, and to keep things relevant even to your (possibly very small) business, let’s define it this way: The cloud is an amorphous group of servers whose size, type, and location may in fact be unknown to you, and on which you either store data or from which you receive some sort of software service. (Hence a term you may have heard: SaaS—software as a service.) In fact, another way to think of cloud computing is as utility-based computing: In the cloud reside software services that you can purchase on a pay-as-you-go basis, spending only what you need to, and only as those services are required.

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