We often hear how cloud computing makes it more affordable for customers to use services that in the past would have been packaged as software and required buying, installing and maintaining on any number of individual machines.

But we often forget how it is also much cheaper for the vendor to produce and distribute services through the cloud. Cloud vendors do not need to test software on any number of operating systems. Version control is a nagging task. it's unnecessary when the service is cloud-based. The idea of a software disc seems almost antiquated.

IBM seems to get this whole concept pretty well. The company has realized that it can use a cloud computing infrastructure to market its web-based services. Their target right now are college students and professors who are being offered the use of IBM software and databases through a cloud infrastructure IBM calls the "Academic Skills Cloud."

Programs now available to college students and professors include IBM Rational, WebSphere, and Informix. Services to be added to the cloud over time will include Cognos, Lotus and Tivoli.

This is a smart move by IBM. It shows how deeply ingrained cloud computing has become at Big Blue. It leverages the power of the cloud to offer IBM technology at minimal cost. Plus, it reaches students who will go on to associate IBM with cloud computing as they begin their professional careers.

The Academic Skills Cloud provides students with access to leading cloud computing technology and new methods for developing applications. Courses and work material can be accessed anywhere the student is located.

Professors can teach practices that students will see in the workforce once they graduate. Machines do not need to be continually updated with new software. It's all available online.

Students who learn about cloud computing today stand a far better chance of adapting to a world where working with online services will be the way business is conducted. IBM is making guarantees that they will be top of mind for students once they move on to the professional world.