20110606 appleicloud 54
Attendees walk by a sign for the new iCloud during the 2011 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone Center on June 6, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif. - 

Steve Chiotakis: Apple is expected to launch its new iCloud today, making it the next big player
in the rapidly growing cloud computing market. But what exactly does that mean?

Marketplace's Adriene Hill explains.

Adriene Hill: The cloud at its most basic is a bunch of servers, storing data, and providing services -- all accessible whenever you're online.

Eric Gilbert is a professor at Georgia Tech.

Eric Gilbert: If you are talking about the consumer-facing side of it, you are really talking about your data lives on the Internet instead of your device.

Lots of us already use the cloud everyday. Gmail and Yahoo Mail -- that's the cloud. iCloud will store your photos, music and documents and share them between your computers and phone. But what's in it for companies providing space and software to do these things? For one:

Randl Bryant: They actually make money at it.

Randl Bryant is the dean of the school of computer science at Carnegie Melon University. Another advantage for companies:

Bryant: When you park it at one company, it can be hard then to move it to a different company and so you get locked into a particular brand, and that company may or may not continue to serve your needs.

There's some hand-wringing around cloud-based computing and security. But Bryant thinks big companies will do a better job of it than a lot of us do on our own.

I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

Follow Adriene Hill at @adrienehill