With cloud gazing, much depends on interpretation. When it comes to cloud computing, some see storms and others see dollars signs.
Cloud computing is breaking into the IT mainstream. With cloud computing, companies pay a nominal fee to store and remotely access business information off-site through online applications rather than maintain the technology required to support such activities on-site.
From sending basic Gmail messages to renting remote servers, there are varying spectrums in the cloud model, “where IT products are consumed as services," reports the Wall Street Journal.
To some, the cloud represents the future of a streamlined business model. According to Businessweek, the cloud is currently small, representing approximately 5% of the $1.5 trillion corporate IT spending that occurred in 2010. But that minority is making a major impact. “The phenomenon of businesses moving their most important and innovative work into the cloud is real and is profoundly changing how companies buy computer technology.”
Initial cloud providers worked to be more innovative than the big players, BusinessWeek says, which they could do inexpensively becuase "their customers were consumers who weren't locked in with fat contracts and dedicated account reps.” Although cloud computing has yet to convice Corporate America of its superior benefits, cloud services remain an especially tempting option for up-and-coming companies and smaller businesses that are limited by in-house technical capabilities.
For example, the crafting retail website Etsy uses cloud computing to analyze data from its site views (more than one billion per month) and create product recommendations for its customers.
Cloud computing might be opening the horizon, but not everyone is a fan. Some private cloud providers suggest companies keep the "mission-critical" functions in-house because conducting business elsewhere still carries risks. And then there's the media coverage of potential market monopolies, security breaches, and cloud crashes (see Google and the California Secretary of State's website).
Opnions, it seems, are still up in the air.
"You can find 100 reasons not to move to the cloud," said the co-founder of MarginPro, a small company that provides customer analysis and product pricing, in Businessweek. "But you're going to look up one day and all you will be doing is managing the systems that connect all your printers."