This word has recently been used for many different services such as 'cloud backup', 'cloud computing', 'cloud email'.
All it means is that a data-intensive service is being provided by another company on your behalf via the internet. This service may be for your own use or it may be for your customers.
They normally have one or more dedicated data centres to provide the service advertised.
For backup services there are companies such as Mozy offering online backups.
For email services there is Google that offers Gmail to large enterprises to replace their in-house email system.
For storing your online documents there is Google Docs and many other companies.
If you want to rent some serious computing and server resources then there is the Amazon S3 cloud service.
So 'cloud' is coming to mean an online service that you are renting to provide a service to your customers or to yourself.
As a company, it saves money because you do not need to invest in people and hardware for the service needed within your own company e.g. email and backup.
If you are a personal user, it is excellent for insuring a fire or other accident at home will not cause you to lose your data or your home-based business.
If you have a very 'peaky' business such as christmas holiday, then it makes sense to hire a service such as Amazon S3 to cope with seasonal demand rather than have servers sitting idle for most of the year.
You come to depend entirely on the other company. For example, if the email service went down, how would the company cope?
It may depend on the quality of the internet connection if the service is between yourselves and the cloud service.
It does cost money, so you have to balance the cost of doing things yourself against the cost of the online service.
Challenge see if you can find out one extra fact on this topic that we haven't already told you
Click on this link: Cloud based services