I remember in the 'old' days, when I was using AOL (AOL), I had the option of saving my mail on my own computer or AOL could save it for me. Back then, I thought it was 'safer' to save it locally. But then I ran into a problem. When I was using my laptop, I couldn't access the mail on my desktop computer, and vice-versa. Plus, I had mail stored in two different places, and wasn't sure what was saved where. I finally gave in and had AOL save my mail for me. This concept is a very simple example of cloud computing. So to understand clouds a bit more, let me give you a couple more examples, without using a lot of technospeak, and keeping it in layman's terms.
Cloud computing is having your programs and data stored remotely on a server in another location, instead of on your own individual computer. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can have a cheap old computer and still take advantage of cloud computing. The servers of companies that provide this service represent the 'clouds', and those servers can be located anywhere. Yahoo (YHOO) mail, Google (GOOG) gmail, and Microsoft's (MSFT) hotmail are examples of cloud computing in a limited way. The email servers are not in your office or home as you use the Yahoo or Google or Microsoft servers. Many corporations, organizations, and universities are utilizing the email services of Google, which saves them money on servers and saves on staffing.
For corporations, cloud benefits are substantial. Cloud computing can reduce waste and carbon footprints along with providing significant cost savings. Companies that utilize cloud computing don't need to keep buying more servers. Costs relating to the disposal of old computers and servers is cut back significantly. Data security is the job of the cloud computing firm. Businesses can eliminate the techs that have to come out and install new software to each employees' station, and network administrators monitoring the company's servers are reduced.
Investors like the green and financial benefits of cloud computing companies. According to WallStreetNewsNetwork.com, there are over 25 stocks in the cloud field, based oh the free Cloud Computer Stock List, which includes companies involved in server farms and outsourced storage systems.
The one of the largest corporations that falls into the cloud computer arena is Salesforce.com (CRM), which is a provider of customer-relationship management services. The company's stock symbol stands for Customer Relationship Management. Salesforce has customers of all sizes, including Staples (SPLS), Expedia (EXPE), News Corp. (NWS-A), and SunTrust Banks (STI). Salesforce trades at 66 times forward earnings. Quarterly revenues ending January 31 were up 38% year-over-year. The company reports latest earnings on May 17.
Citrix Systems, Inc. (CTXS) provides on demand applications and online services, including GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, GoToTraining, GoToAssist, and GoToMyPC. This company has a forward price to earnings ratio of 25. The latest quarterly earnings were down 7%, however, revenues were up 20%. I like the fact that the company is debt free.
VMware (VMW) is another major cloud and virtualization company. Its product VMware vSphere is a cloud computing data center platform. It sports a forward price to earnings ratio of 44. The company reported that latest earnings increased an incredible 52% in earnings on an amazing 25% increase in revenues. Although VMware has $450 million in total debt, it holds $5.2 billion in cash.
To access the free database of numerous companies involved in cloud computing in some way, that can be downloaded, sorted, and updated, go to WallStreetNewsNetwork.com. A couple of them even pay dividends.
You can also get info on the green aspects of cloud computing from my book The Green Light on Green Stocks: A Quick Guide to Green Investing and Making Money in Alternative Energy Stocks, available through the publisher or through Amazon.com (AMZN), which also happens to be involved in the cloud computer business. As far as I know, my book is the first to publish information on cloud computing as a green industry.
Disclosure: Author owns AOL, AMZN, and YHOO.