Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user. The term is generally used to describe data centers available to many users over the Internet.
The word “cloud” (also phrased as “the cloud”) is used as a metaphor for “the Internet,” so the phrase means a type of Internet-based computing, where different services —including servers, storage and applications — are delivered to an organization’s computers and devices through the Internet.
It’s an on-demand service that has obtained mass appeal in corporate data centers. The cloud enables the data center to operate like the Internet and computing resources to be accessed and shared as virtual resources in a secure and scalable manner. Like most technologies, trends start in the enterprise and shift to adoption by small business owners.
For a small and medium size business (SMB), the benefits of cloud computing is currently driving adoption. In the SMB sector there is often a lack of time and financial resources to purchase, deploy and maintain an infrastructure (e.g. the software, server and storage). In cloud computing, small businesses can access these resources using an Internet connection and Web browser. You can expand (or shrink) services as your business needs change. The common pay-as-you-go subscription model is designed to let SMBs easily add or remove services and you typically will only pay for what you do use.
Unlike traditional computing where data is stored on your PC’s local hard drive, the data in the cloud is stored on many physical and/or virtual servers that are hosted by a third-party service provider. An example: A file storage provider is Dropbox. Dropbox files can be accessed from any device via the Internet.