The IBM-Google effort has a clear commercial side. IBM believes the cloud model will allow it to reach small and midsize companies around the world, which it says represent a $500 billion IT market that it has trouble serving profitably through the usual sales channels. Google and IBM could conceivably supply computer users -- both business and consumer -- with hosted offerings ranging from basic productivity software like word processing and calendaring to sophisticated management and security tools through IBM's Tivoli brand and Google's Postini unit.
Even though it is launching in concert with government and educational backing, the HP, Intel, and Yahoo collaboration is expected to eventually lead toward commercial markets as well.
Among the best examples today of commercial cloud computing is Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (E2C) and Simple Storage Service (S3). The services open Amazon's infrastructure to third parties that can build, deploy, and run application services on Amazon's platform for a fee.