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Have you heard about cloud computing?

Three years ago when my daughter Alex bought her Mac computer for college, my husband recommended she get a “back-up drive,” so she could save a copy of all her work, in case something happened to her computer.

When I asked Alex about it, she said, “Yeah mom, I subscribed to Apple’s back-up service for less than $100 a year.”

“But Alex, you need to get a back-up drive.”

“No mom, I am going to just back it up to the cloud.”

“The cloud?”

Never gave it a second thought, until I was attending an agri-business seminar this past March. The last speaker for our three-day conference was there to talk about the latest and greatest in the IT (information technology) world.

The focus of his presentation? Cloud computing.

Cloud computing, in essence, gives you the ability to use services on demand, rather than having your own hardware and software. There are public clouds, private clouds and hybrid public/private clouds.

Right now, owners of businesses can opt NOT to buy their own computer hardware and software systems, and instead can use the cloud option. Find a company whose software you like — and pay as you need it. You can operate your business from your laptop, utilizing THEIR software and hardware. Their information may be stored in a public cloud, or private cloud. Welcome to the new business model.

There is even a book called Cloud Computing for Dummies! Here is an excerpt from the book, explaining the cloud:

The “cloud” in cloud computing can be defined as the set of hardware, networks, storage, services, and interfaces that combine to deliver aspects of computing as a service. Cloud services include the delivery of software, infrastructure, and storage over the Internet (either as separate components or a complete platform) based on user demand. Cloud computing is the next stage in the Internet’s evolution, providing the means through which everything — from computing power to computing infrastructure, applications, business processes to personal collaboration — can be delivered to you as a service wherever and whenever you need.

Read more here.

You’ve probably already used cloud computing services without realizing it.

• Ever use a back-up assistant for your cell phone? That’s the cloud.
• Do you have a Gmail, Yahoo, AOL or other web-based email account? The cloud.
• Use to manage your customer lists and contacts? The cloud.

I encourage you to check it out, because according to what I’ve read, Amazon and Google are already using the cloud to store much of their information. The future is now! Well, I guess this gives new meaning to the saying, “my head is in the clouds.”

And now you know!

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