Yesterday I used an example of school examinations to show how IT has to cope with peaks and troughs (where the systems get intensive use for a few weeks each year, and then lie idle for much of the rest). Overnight I got an email from a colleague pointing me towards the video below - which illustrates the exact scenario I gave.
In New South Wales, Janison have delivered an examinations system for students , where Windows Azure Cloud services were used to deliver high capacity for a short burst - these exams run once a year, for half a day. In this case it delivered 300 virtual servers instead of having to build a data centre with 60 dedicated servers- and it reduced the cost from hundreds of thousands of dollars to under $1,000. What Janison were able to do was switch on 300 Azure servers at 5am, run them for 12 hours, and then switch them off - and only pay for that time, at $40 an hour (NOT $40 per server per hour - $40 for 300 servers!).
Which leads to a question: What's the business problem that you could now solve with the Cloud, that wasn't affordable to fix before?