The basic idea behind cloud computing is to outsource one or more of your networked computing resources to the Internet. “The cloud” represents a new way of handling common computer tasks. Following are a few examples of how the cloud way differs from the traditional way:

  • E-mail services

    • Traditional: Provide e-mail services is to install Microsoft Exchange on a local server computer. Then your clients can connect use Microsoft Outlook to connect to the Exchange server to send and receive e-mail.

    • Cloud: Contract with an Internet-based e-mail provider, such as Google Mail (Gmail). Cloud-based e-mail services typically charge a low monthly per-user fee, so the amount you pay for your e-mail service depends solely on the number of e-mail users you have.

  • Disk storage

    • Traditional: Set up a local file server computer with a large amount of shared disk space.

    • Cloud: Sign up for an Internet file storage service and then store your data on the Internet. Cloud-based file storage typically charges a small monthly per-gigabyte fee, so you pay only for the storage you use. The disk capacity of cloud-based storage is essentially unlimited.

  • Accounting services

    • Traditional: Purchase expensive accounting software and install it on a local server computer.

    • Cloud: Sign up for a web-based accounting service. Then all your accounting data is saved and managed on the provider’s servers, not on yours.