What is Cloud Computing? When your computer (or phone, or TV) works together with other computers on the Internet to do some task, it is "talking to the cloud". For example, your computer is working with the Youngzine server (a larger computer) to show you this article!
As many as 70 large companies, including BMW, Shell and Marriott Hotels, have formed an alliance to push for unified standards for Cloud Computing - they are going to insist that various "cloud" systems (such as those from Google, Amazon and others) work together better. Even Microsoft jumped on the bandwagon and said that they would provide all the infrastructure -- the computers, software and storage to help businesses get started.
What is the benefit?
Many of you have used Microsoft Word or Powerpoint and other applications on your computer. In a large company, each person's computer needs to have each of these applications installed, which is a big headache. Instead, imagine creating your document or slide show using your web browser (the same one that you're reading Youngzine on), with the actual application running on Google's server -- this saves the company a lot of money and also lets its employees collaborate (share their work) better.
The other benefit is that it spurs amazing innovations. Imagine this: you say to your phone in French, "Make me a reservation at a fancy Mexican restaurant in the greater Dallas area". The phone talks to a computer that translates that to English, and then passes it on to another computer that tries to understand it. This in turn talks to Yelp.com's restaurant web site to get a list of restaurants and picks the first one. The message is forwarded to yet another computer that "takes reservations" for that restaurant. Finally, you get a text message on your cell phone saying "Reservation for 4 at 7:30 PM at Senor Cortez". Magic? No, it could soon be reality!