Imagine being able to access all of your applications and all of your documents regardless of whether you're at your desk, at home or on your mobile device. What if you never have to worry about maintaining your own network or hardware? This is the reality of cloud computing. By definition, cloud computing is a way of providing software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure and hardware as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS), either individually or in different combinations. The basis of cloud computing is that all of these services are offered via a network connection to a server or servers within the "cloud" of the Internet using some type of networked appliance. Why Use Cloud Computing? Whether you're an individual or a small or large business, cloud computing offers a reliable, low-maintenance way to provide a scalable solution for on-demand services at a fraction of the cost of having licensed locally installed copies of software, IT infrastructure and hardware that quickly becomes outdated. Cloud computing also eliminates the need for a large staff of IT personnel and it also allows you, as a business owner, to decide which services you actually need and which you don't. Using infrastructure as a service provides limitless server capacity available on a pay-as-you-use basis or on a monthly payment structure. Having this storage capability makes it easy for businesses to store all of their integral information in a secure, centralised area without worrying about costly upgrades. The software as a service model in cloud computing allows individuals or businesses to use only the software they need, on an as-needed basis while upgrades are taken care of by the service provider. Finally, platform as a service offers a software development environment that is not restricted to a localised area. This means that software and upgrades being developed within a cloud computing platform can be delivered to consumers faster and easier. Will Cloud Computing Work for Me? Regardless of what type of business you operate, if you rely on an IT services that always has a need for increased capacity, continued software upgrades or constant hardware and software maintenance, it's easy to recognise the advantages of cloud computing. The question that should be asked is, "What business wouldn't benefit from having unlimited infrastructure, consistent software upgrades or a world wide platform for delivering its products?" The most important aspect of cloud computing is that it allows you to run your business the way you need to run it without constantly roadblocks such as downtime, continuous upgrades and outdated equipment. Unlimited Access - From a practical standpoint, cloud computing offers freedom from the desk or office and access from a huge selection of portable devices such as netbooks, laptops and web-enabled mobile devices. How often does this scenario happen? Your team is on the road pitching a client and at the last minute you realise that you've left an important part of your presentation sitting back at your office on your desktop computer. The presentation doesn't go well and your potential client shows you the door. If your business had been using infrastructure as a service, that integral piece of your presentation would have been accessible to your laptop or mobile phone and you wouldn't have missed a single beat. A Solid Customisable Solution - Cloud computing is a solution that can be scaled directly to the size of your business. It eliminates software licensing costs, downtime, obsolete software and equipment and the possibility of losing the documents and information that are important to the success of your business. Ultimately, one of the most beneficial aspects of cloud computing is its cost-effectiveness when compared to other localised solutions. The movement toward this model will continue and successful businesses will reap the benefits of this new shift. When it comes right down to it, businesses not using cloud computing will find it much harder to succeed.