For as much as cloud computing has become part of the technology landscape, there are still a lot of people who either haven’t gotten around to migrating data into the cloud or who have purposely avoided the move.

But have we reached a point where using the cloud has become almost mandatory for today’s business environment?

“There is nothing that dictates the need to go to the cloud,” says David W. B. Parker, owner of PTC Computer Solutions. “The cloud is really a medium whereby companies can interact by and between themselves and share with others within or without the company. If this is not something that is necessitated by the business or businesses your company serves or services, then the cloud is not a functional option.”

However, if the company has to be concerned with the bottom line – and what company isn’t? – then yes, the cloud is necessary in today’s business climate.

In an economy where the economy is driving towards cheaper, better, and faster, cloud computing offers the opportunity to reduce cost by sharing infrastructure, and only paying for what is consumed. In fact, according to a survey performed by solution provider CSC last winter, 82 percent of all organizations saved money on their last cloud adoption project.

“For web hosting, the cloud offers the ability to affordably scale on a moment’s notice and also offers enterprise class security and reliability,” says Ross Kimbarovsky, co-founder of crowdSPRING, a design company that uses the cloud to reach its customer base around the globe and has seen how the cloud benefits his business growth. “Businesses hosting their sites at cheap service providers not only risk data loss, but risk losing customers because their sites constantly crash, small spikes in traffic render their servers inaccessible, and poor support gets in the way of running their businesses.

“For data storage, the cloud offers unprecedented levels of security and scalability. Even small businesses can generate incredible amount of data. For example, crowdSPRING employs 14 people, but we have built a community of more than 200,000 users. We generate terabytes of data every year. It would be impossible — and cost prohibitive — for us to store this data locally using non-cloud based storage.”

Kimbarovsky’s business is the type that will thrive in the cloud, but not every company has reached that point where information has to be shared remotely or have employees and/or clients who need to work simultaneously from different locations.

Nor is business at a point at which all data needs to be stored or accessed through the cloud, according to Jeremy Lesniak, founder of Vermont Computing, Inc. “The best data to store in the cloud is that data which users generate but don’t use constantly. Word processing and spreadsheet documents are great things to keep in the cloud whereas your business management database might not be,” Lesniak says.

But, adds Jay Walker, partner, of online backup company Conteggo, back-up services are ideal for cloud-based applications, as both a means of providing effective disaster recovery and as a way to cut costs on backup storage media.

Although the general consensus is no, the cloud is not mandatory in the 2012 business environment, chances are that it will be in the not-to-distant future.

After all, Parker points out, it wasn’t very long ago that not all businesses were sold on the Internet or having websites. As more work is conducted via smartphones, tablets, and whatever the newest mobile device turns out to be and as Internet speeds and connectivity improve, we likely aren’t far from a time when we won’t remember when using the cloud wasn’t part of the everyday business landscape.