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Steve Strauss - Cloud Computing

We have all been hearing about cloud computing for the past few years, but can it actually help your business?

My USA Today column has a question and answer column. Necessarily, I get lots of questions every week from readers and from small business people wanting to know answers to various questions.

One of the questions I get more often is with regard to cloud computing. What is it? How can I make it work for me? Should I use it? That kind of thing. What I'd like to do right now is talk a little bit about cloud computing and how to take the mystery out of using things in the cloud.

I bet even if you don't know it, you're already engaged in cloud computing. If, for example, you have a GMail account, if you have a Yahoo Mail account and you access your email online sometimes, you're using cloud computing. That's a cloud computing program.

Cloud computing is anything you can do on your computer either using software or an app or storage or something like that that's not stored on your actual hard drive. If you have maybe a remote back up service using the web, that's cloud computing. If you can access Google Docs, you use Google Docs and you go online and you create a document online, cloud computing. Any kind of software that you can access online, not on your own home PC or laptop is in fact in the cloud.

Simple concept, and it's a great concept for small business because it allows us to be far more effective and save some money. Let me tell you how. Any time, anywhere from any computer. Now that is pretty great. Those days of you have to run to the office to do something are over. Those days where you're on the road and you forgot an important file on a different computer or you didn't bring your little flash drive or whatever it is are over.

By using cloud computing, you can access your data, save your data, access your software any time, anywhere. That's great and it can save you money. That's even better and another advantage.

How's it save you money? Well for one, you're not always needing to buy new hardware that's the fastest computer ever or has the most memory because you're not even needing to save all of your documents and all of your software on your own computer. In fact you can create some very inexpensive computer stations that access cloud computing properties and profiles online and save some money that way. And, you're going to save an IT cost as well.

It saves you money, it's going to save you time. You can access things any time. Very easy thing to use and something you might want to check out.