Cloud computing is a bit of a buzz-word (or rather phrase) at the moment, but what is it? Simply put, it's the concept that a collection of computers are used, over the Internet, for storage of data, running applications, and general web-based services.
The Net itself is a 'cloud', but the fast-growing trend of applications being used directly on the Web is a good example of using 'the cloud'. For instance, one can dispense with MS Office on your PC and use Google Docs, or Zoho.com for many of your word processing needs. Presuming you have a good internet connection, of course!
The big advantage of course is that your data is accessible from anywhere you're connected to the web. The cloud is also an ideal place to backup your data (see our post about online backups). It does raise the issue of how secure and trustworthy a service is, especially given the number of new startups there are, vying for your attention. But the big guys (Google, Microsoft, Zoho) all offer services that can help you get into 'the cloud'.