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Everywhere there is buzz about cloud computing.How is it helpful to business?

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Everywhere there is buzz about cloud computing.How is it helpful to business?

I think it will save alot of time/money on Maintenance

The way I understand it -- and I'm no expert on the subject -- is that Cloud Computing is nothing more than storing data on someone else's server so that you can access it by any computer that has the correct permissions. It's similar concept to having an external hard drive -- but this time the external hard drive is located somewhere on the internet. AFAIK you can't run other programs on it, such as MySQL server, the cloud is for storage and retrieval only. It would be great if a database server could be running on the cloud so that everyone within a world-wide company could access the same data at the same time, just like they can now with a LAN database. And that would be a great advancement in the medical field where a doctor could access a patient's data from anywhere in the world.

You're right in that cloud computing is storing data on someone else's server. While technically it might be a similar concept to having an external hdd, in practice it is very different.

I also just want to point out that you are incorrect in that it's only for data storage and retrieval. Virtual servers can be run in the cloud, and that's very prevalent nowadays. Windows Azure is a popular example of a cloud-based database server. Virtualization is becoming more and more popular nowadays with the ease and simplicity in which virtual machines can be migrated from locally to remotely living in the cloud.

From a business perspective, cloud computing is almost always synonymous with SaaS products (software-as-a-service). The main advantage to cloud computing is that, for the first time ever, businesses have the ability to short-term lease hardware and software licenses without any upfront costs related to hardware, software, IT personnel, etc. Instead, you're effectively just paying a monthly fee which includes maintenance, support and an uptime guarantee.

In many cases, cloud computing offers access to technology that would otherwise be cost prohibitive. The additional benefit is scalability. Cloud computing and virtualization allows the ease of upgrading, as the needs and resource demands of the business grow, as simply as paying a slight fee increase on the next bill. Often times, there's a pay-for-what-you-use policy, which virtually eliminates the risk on the part of the business to accurately estimate how many resources will be needed ahead of time. This is also very cost effective for seasonal businesses (such as sports leagues) that might get an outstanding amount of traffic during a small portion of the year and virtually no traffic the remainder of the year. Cloud computing gives access to the resources needed (with a higher cost) only when they're needed, and there's no excessive hardware/software/personnel/maintenance/etc costs during the remainder of the time. As you can imagine, this can save billions of dollars.

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