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Cloud computing already has trimmed some businesses' IT costs. But a report found that it also could be the next big thing to help reduce their energy use, according to greenbiz.com

The fourth annual Energy Efficient IT Report - by technology products and services seller CDW - calls cloud computing a possible "game changer" that's playing a growing role in energy efficiency.

For the report, CDW surveyed 760 people working in private businesses, nonprofits, schools and governments. Of these respondents, 62 percent agreed that cloud computing is an energy-efficient way to consolidate data centers.

Learning to Live in the Clouds
A big key to cloud computing adoption is that it has achieved an ease of use so that just about anyone with an email address and credit card can start to see what the fuss is about, according to TheAge.com. Free, but limited accounts and simple sign-up have gotten many people over that first price hurdle to at least give it a try.

There is also a sense of freedom at being able to "get stuff done" without having to go through the pain of capital expenditure and set-up costs. This lean attitude of "get it up, out and pay as you go" can be very liberating, especially for projects that have difficulty in delivering a return on investment in more traditional terms, such as social media pieces. Read more on the shape of cloud computing here.

Job Security and Cloud Computing
For businesses of all sizes, deploying the cloud is a serious undertaking as it can change the shape of an IT budget and the IT personnel group needed moving forward. In the end, it means overall innovation in IT and a broader consideration of which skills are needed to compete today.

Embracing cloud computing can be both a positive and negative force when it comes to looking at job security in IT.

Generally, for enterprises, it's about cost savings because deploying the cloud means reducing the number of staff generally needed and therefore reducing budgets. A study by IT service provider CSC claims 14 percent of companies reduced their IT staff head count after deploying a cloud strategy. Simply put, the cloud creates greater efficiencies, thereby reducing IT staff. Read more about it here.

Cloud Computing Done the Netflix Way
What can Netflix teach enterprises about data center operations and always-on reliability? Netflix is a consumer-facing Web shop with only a few applications - a completely different infrastructure challenge, right? Not exactly. CIO.com's Bernard Golden explains the lessons to be learned from Netflix's data center transformation.

Netflix started its journey with a traditional enterprise environment and a traditional data center infrastructure. It found the infrastructure too fragile for its needs, and the traditional operations model didn't respond fast enough to the needs of the business. Netflix changed its approach because it recognized that the future of its business required a different way of doing things.

There's a Tax for That
Responding to Vermont's business sector uproar against a tax on cloud computing, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill taking the extraordinary step of refunding $1.9 million in sales tax revenue.

According to the bill, cloud computing is defined as the use of "pre-written software run in underlying infrastructure that is not managed or controlled by the consumer or a related company."

Vermont already taxes the sale of pre-written software when it's purchased at a store or downloaded from the Internet. The tax department contends that cloud computing is also taxable.

More Stories By Patrick Burke

Patrick Burke is a writer and editor based in the greater New York area and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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