Apr 21, 2013 · 3 minutes

On Monday, we asked our readers what they thought about a number of issues related to cloud computing. As incentive, we offered tickets to NetSuite's SuiteWorld event on cloud computing and a number of upcoming PandoMonthly events.

Once again, our readers didn't disappoint. Just like when you we asked you to weigh in on enterprise startups, you provided us with smart, strong opinions that truly add to the prevailing conversations surrounding this topic.

How would you describe “cloud computing” to a layperson?

David Cheng:
Remember when you had to download Outlook to send emails but now you can just Gmail? It's like that but for everything else.
Gary-Yau Chan:
Cloud computing is somewhat like the electric plugs and switches in your home. The electricity is generated at huge powerplants and delivered to you. As a consumer, you are abstracted from the details of the plant or even how its produced. The cloud is like the plants which will provide you the "utility" resource or data.

What companies are you most excited about in cloud computing?

Jesse Miller:
I obviously love Amazon Web Services. They seem like old news at this point but they continue to bring down prices and add more services. Some of their newer services like CloudSearch open up incredible new opportunities to startups to build even more rich applications quickly.

David Cheng:
I like the idea of companies taking on huge amounts of analog data that is otherwise not being parsed/mined in a smart way. To that point, I am excited to see what RelateIQ delivers once they're out of private beta.

What are the biggest challenges facing cloud computing companies?

Saro Sarkuni:
The biggest challenge for cloud computing companies is selling to the enterprise. They have data security concerns, real or perceived, that need to be more effectively addressed.

Will cloud-based software ever fully replace on-premise software tools?

Saro Sarkuni:
Inevitably. Everything that's possible with existing software tools can be done better in the browser, and having a web interface into your data makes entirely new features and uses possible.
Stacie Frederick:
It will get close, but unless/until internet connections can become as reliable and seamless as plugging a wire into a wall, there will always be a small (but shrinking) segment of software that works better as installed. Things were a high degree of accuracy and precision are needed -- like CAD or graphics software come to mind..

Are machines like the Google Chromebook, which prioritize cloud integration over hard drive space, the way of the future?

Saro Sarkuni:
Yes. We're seeing new JavaScript frameworks (Backbone.js, Ember.js, and AngularJS), and ambitious projects (asm.js, Dart) being developed, all geared towards building large-scale, complex web apps. These innovative new technologies, happening in the web browser and bundled in new devices like Google Chromebook, will drive cloud integration for quite some time.
Edward Chang:
I don't know if full cloud machines like the chromebook will be the norm due to programmers' preferences, but already many bizdev folks pretty much use the cloud for all of their daily use - google apps, gmail, twitter, spotify, etc

Do you have security concerns about putting all your data in the cloud?

Jesse Miller:
No. As long as you choose your vendors wisely, they most likely are better at keeping your data secure than you are.
Emil Choski:
Just as banks bring us a great deal of convenience and afford us the peace of mind of not having to store cash at home, clouds give us the convenience of not having to copy data between devices or backing up our data. This is done for us.

But just as with the banking system there are dangers with putting all of your eggs in one basket and with the lack of regulation and customer protection. Before the Banking Act of 1933 there was no insurance for your money. If the bank lost your money, well … you’re not getting it back. Even as recently as the past few years, the lack of regulation in the financial industry has brought us the subprime mortgage scandal and customers being charged myriad fees. David Cheng:

Yes and no. There's just as much security concerns by having on-premise servers. The difference is that catastrophic events are more likely in a cloud-based economy because a daisy-chained power outage can take out multiple services (see Hurricane Sandy).
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]