The cloud offering is fast becoming the 'excuse the pun' it word in IT. Smartphones, tablets and other gadgets aren't just changing the way we live and work. They are shaking up Silicon Valley's balance of power and splitting up businesses. Long-established companies such as Hewlett-Packard and eBay are scrambling to regain their footing to compete against mobile-savvy trendsetters like Apple and Google, as well as rising technology stars that have built businesses around "cloud computing".
That term covers a swath of internet-driven services that shifted technology from the days software users paid a one-time fee to buy and install programs on individual machines where they also stored all their data on hard drives. But with the advent of the "cloud", people can now rent software to use over the internet.
This enables customers to access documents, pictures and other vital information from any kind of internet-connected device, a convenience that has become a necessity during the past few years as people increasingly rely on smartphones and tablets instead of laptop and desktop computers.
Business software makers such as Salesforce.com, VMware and Workday built their entire business models around the cloud. All have delivered revenue growth that turned their stocks into hot commodities.
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