At this point in time you should be taking advantage of virtualization in your data center. The next step is to take it to the cloud and increase efficiencies even more. Your virtualization solution should have changed your view on servers. The IT devops lifecycle becomes more apparent when virtualizied. These aren’t the servers of old which noone touches and never reboots, these are your agile virtual appliances which can be taken down and redeployed with a push of button.
You’ve probably been using cloud services for a while now and not even noticed. Your webserver should be hosted somewhere and not in your datacenter, congrats you’re using a cloud server. If your email is outsourced to Microsoft or Google (and it probably should be), then you’ve been using a cloud service. If you’ve registered your domain with a company like GoDaddy and use them for your primary domain hosting, then you’re using a cloud service.
The savings using virtualized private servers like EC2 are enormous. Quite likely, the money you spend on electricity alone is more than what it costs to have an equivelent EC2 server. This is becasue the data centers that these cloud servers are located in have been tailored to save as much money as possible and a big part of that is to be located close to cheap power supplies, like hydropower. This is also the reason for the location of the Holyoke Data Center in Massachusetts. There’s a hydro dam out in western Mass and electricity is much less expensive.