Once upon a time there was a man who liked to help people. He was good at helping people reach their dreams in business and in their personal lives. He decided to open a bank so he could make good honest loans to good honest people.

He bought all the necessities to make a bank work. But his biggest investment was the people he hired to help him.

Soon, however, he had to start buying computers. Then he had to buy servers. Then he had to find a room to put the servers in.

Pretty soon he had to buy more computers and more servers because the first ones broke down. There were always computer problems. So he hired someone to maintain the computers and servers. He expanded the server room. He expanded his IT staff.

Every year his budget grew. Every year computers and servers broke down and he bought new ones. He bought a data center and hired more people to manage his data.

Years flew by. He wondered what had happened. How had he turned his business into a computer company – instead of what he wanted to do – help people.

As our banker found out, increasing technology needs can lead to a massive data canter filled with physical machines that don't run at full capacity. They take up space and run at low rates of usage. In the computer world, we like to call this 'server sprawl'. Cloud computing eliminates server sprawl by maximizing resources and moving data and servers off-site.

Although the cloud has been around awhile, recent developments in technology and security have made cloud computing a viable solution to answering the banking industry's computing needs. Did you know that if you have a gmail, yahoo or hotmail account – you have been using "the cloud" for years. These email service providers store your email and attachments on their hardware in the cloud. They are responsible for it, they maintain it – and usually for free.

The cloud is best defined as computing resources that are not owned or maintained by the end-user. Because of this, cloud hosting and other cloud resources can eliminate long-term internal computer infrastructure. It also provides an immediate and scalable resource for all computing needs.

Cloud computing is constantly discussed as the major emerging tech trend. More than a trend, it is the way business-class computing will evolve in the foreseeable future. In fact, recent statistics show that the cloud is being deployed successfully by numerous Fortune 500 companies (Forbes, Nov. '12). These companies expect to continue their cloud deployment over and above their static IT departments, as the cloud has proven to boost both efficiency and effectiveness of IT budget dollars.

In-house servers and IT staffs were not designed as a long-term solution. They have simply grown and developed as a means to an end. They are reactionary to the development of computers and business's evolving reliance on them.

Cloud computing rewrites that paradigm. It is a pro-active design for long-term sustained computing service to businesses.

As a business owner, are you comfortable with the IT business plan of server sprawl? If not, research the cloud and what it can do for your specific business. Find a provider that has a proven record and one that you trust. It's a solution that has arrived and is worth a look.