Not long ago, I blogged about what happens when cloud computing fails. It's actually more interesting to think about how to make cloud computing succeed. Since Amazon and Google put their name recognition (and huge resource pools) to work in the cloud, a lot of bloggers have taken up the challenge of working with cloud apps and then telling readers how they work.
On the Amazon side, Marcus Cake wrote about setting up an Amazon server and installing SugarCRM. Looking at his post, a reasonably skilled tech could have a CRM system ready to start customizing with less than a day's work. If you're running a small business and want to know how to take your critical personal productivity applications to the cloud, then Paul Stamatiou has written a long, information-rich post on how to live the cloud life. Paul gives examples from his own work life as he shows you how to move e-mail, document storage, collaboration, and other functions to the Web. His examples skew a little toward the personal/creative, but the principles he discusses are well worth learning. Of course, to get the basic information from a canonical source, you should look at Amazon's Getting Started Guide for EC2 Services.
For small businesses, cloud computing can be a great tool for matching computing resources to computing needs (and your computing budget) when demand fluctuates. If your business is seasonal, or if you're just worried about riding out the next <mumble>months without spending more on IT than you absolutely must, then you really owe it to yourself to learn more about the small business side of cloud computing. I'll be covering more cloud apps here in the blog -- let me know how you're using cloud applications in your small business.