I just spent the last hour talking with a gentleman in Brazil about cloud computing. He is the IT director of a company owned by a friend of my boss.
He was facing the same questions everyone is facing about what is the cloud? and should my small business consider moving into the cloud?
First we covered the basics about what is the cloud? Differences between applications and infrastructure that runs in the cloud.
He has a pretty standard small business infrastructure. He had an Apache Web Server and a Postgres Database Server. Their data needs were growing as well as their web traffic needs.
He made a complaint I hear commonly, they host with Rackspace and said how difficult and costly it is to scale with Rackspace. They just could afford anymore, and the managed service really wasn't that great. I hear this a lot about Rackspace as well as many other "old school ISPs".
It is easy for me to say that these Old School ISP's are a dying bread, we have several years more for cloud computing to really become mainstream. I have commented about other very compentent IT directors I know who have heard about cloud computing but are nowhere near making the jump. I have also talked about the need to end old school ISP business models. They are restrictive, don't facilitate growth and can often keep you hostage.
I spent some time describing how to deploy Amazon EC2 instances, Amazon S3 Volumes, and covered a little about Amazon SimpleDB.
I think the first step in migration of any small business into the cloud is to start with Amazon EC2 to help with your processing power and Amazon S3 to help with your storage needs.
Other services such as Amazon SimpleDB, SQS can come in later once your comfortable.