If talk about cloud computing leaves you scratching your head, you are not alone. For the technology geek crowd, a jargon-laced term like “the cloud” provides a strong hint of what this is all about. But for most of us, not so much.

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, defines “cloud computing” as the use of hardware and software computing resources that are delivered over a network, typically the Internet.

“The analogy I use is the cloud is what enables online banking,” says Paul Welbig, Raven Industries marketing director. Data (your account information) are stored on server computers. To access the data, you fire up a smartphone or tablet computer application or a computer Web browser, then connect via the Internet to view account information.

Given the mobile nature of farming, wireless connectivity — typically through the cellular communication network — is an inseparable component of cloud computing. Other key components include online data storage that boosts information-sharing possibilities, as well as powerful computing resources using online server computers to streamline data analysis.

“Cloud computing can create synergy between farmers, agronomy consultants, retailers, seed companies and other suppliers,” says Trevor Mecham, Case IH Advanced Farming Systems marketing manager. “You are putting a collaborative effort together, through a Web-based service, to share information in real time. That is the holy grail for data management for larger farming operations.”