Cloud computing deployments are essential for businesses wishing to stay competitive according to a senior Google executive.

The old model of computing based on users buying an operating system, security servers, and other components, need a "small army" of people to support their systems, said Paul Slakey, Google director of enterprise channels. The cloud, however, offers massive scalability and economies of scale, he said.

He cited Salesforce as a an example of adopting the right approach. "Companies that don't adopt this [model] are very quickly going to find their costs of doing business are non-competitive," Slakey said.

Executives from the two cloud service providers appeared at a "Cloud Clinic" event at the PlugandPlayTechCenter in Sunnyvale, Calif., hailing the cloud concept and their companies' respective cloud offerings.

The cloud offers lower total cost of ownership, said Steve Lucas, Salesforce senior vice president. He cited the current down economy as offering an opportunity to examine the cloud.

"There's very few things to love about a massive economic downturn," Lucas said. "But one of the things you can love about a massive economic downturn is it forces people to rethink things."

"When you're building your applications in a cloud computing environment, it will change your life," Cloud computing changes how quickly companies can get their application to market, he stressed.

Google and have partnered on cloud computing. "Salesforce and Google are really good friends," said Slakey. "We're all benefitting from the vision that has had and it was spot on."

Cloud Clinic also featured other vendors that are using cloud computing. "The thing about the cloud economy that's amazing, even in these times, is it that it's on the offensive," said Eric Berridge, co-founder at Bluewolf, which provides on-demand software services.

"We have hundreds of people around the world deploying cloud-based solutions at enterprises right now," Berridge said.

Slakey noted the Google App Engine web hosting platform now accommodates Java development. "You can think of this as kind of marrying Google's infrastructure with the Java platform," said Slakey.