Lets take a looks at three things to get a better understanding: Why is it called the cloud? What can the cloud do for me? Is it safe?
The cloud get its name from “Network Diagrams”, those are the blueprints that IT Persons (geeks, programmers, data engineers, etc.) use to plan and build networks. Since the beginning of network diagrams, a cloud (see below) has been used to represent all things beyond their network, often times, this was a metaphor for the internet itself.
Because things stored in the cloud are stored to the internet, often beyond the local network, and at the control of an outside organization, the term Cloud was coined.
The power of the cloud is easily harnessed by those who embrace what it stands for; specialization by outsourcing, subscription based services (this is to say you are leasing something instead of buying it), and being willing to give up local control in order to increase accessibility externally.
The cloud allows you to take your data, software, and aspects of your network out of your current physical location and move it into any number of companies data-centers. The advantage to data centers is because of their buying power, they are able to guarantee high level of accessibility with things like redundant power supplies, regular backups of data, and ultra-fast (redundant) internet connections. Additionally, because of their buying power, they can by hard drives, servers, and infrastructure at a higher discount rate than an individual organization.
All of this is well and good but is my data REALLY safe? There are a plethora of organizations out there that are willing to bring you to the cloud, but not all of them are created equally. The vast majority of them are strong companies looking to give you the best experience possible, but you need to judge each organization by its merits. Look for their professional certifications, accreditations, what they can guarantee and what they are bonded and insured for.
When looking for an organization to bring your data too, Google them, see what comes up. Look for an objective company that focuses on migrating your data to the cloud (www.tcomtdm.com), they will be able to show you many of the advantages and disadvantages of working with different cloud providers. They will be able to make recommendations on what vendors they have had good success with in the past.