Everyone is talking about â€œthe cloud.â€ But what does it mean? Business applications are moving to the cloud. Itâ€™s not just a fadâ€”the shift from traditional software models to the Internet has steadily gained momentum over the last 10 years. Looking ahead, the next decade of cloud computing promises new ways to collaborate everywhere, through mobile devices. Life before cloud computing Traditional business applications have always been very complicated and expensive. The amount and variety of hardware and software required to run them are daunting. You need a whole team of experts to install, configure, test, run, secure, and update them. When you multiply this effort across dozens or hundreds of apps, itâ€™s easy to see why the biggest companies with the best IT departments arenâ€™t getting the apps they need. Small and mid-sized businesses donâ€™t stand a chance. Cloud computing: a better way With cloud computing, you eliminate those headaches because youâ€™re not managing hardware and softwareâ€”thatâ€™s the responsibility of an experienced vendor like salesforce.com. The shared infrastructure means it works like a utility: You only pay for what you need, upgrades are automatic, and scaling up or down is easy. Cloud-based apps can be up and running in days or weeks, and they cost less. With a cloud app, you just open a browser, log in, customize the app, and start using it. Businesses are running all kinds of apps in the cloud, like customer relationship management (CRM), HR, accounting, and much more. Some of the worldâ€™s largest companies moved their applications to the cloud with salesforce.com after rigorously testing the security and reliability of our infrastructure. As cloud computing grows in popularity, thousands of companies are simply rebranding their non-cloud products and services as â€œcloud computing.â€ Always dig deeper when evaluating cloud offerings and keep in mind that if you have to buy and manage hardware and software, what youâ€™re looking at isnâ€™t really cloud computing but a false cloud.