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More than a new buzz phrase to add to the list of client-server, ASP, hosted provider and software as a service (SaaS), cloud computing is a new stage in technology evolution. Clouds provide technology such as software, storage or extra computing cycles more cheaply, more flexibly and with no up-front capital investment. The downside is that customers give up control: when technology lives in the cloud, operating systems, physical location and software version control all become irrelevant.

Cloud computing lets companies access applications online without paying up-front for licenses or hardware. Cloud-based application providers also take care of all the management and upgrade tasks. Companies pay for only as much as they need.

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