For years, webmasters have been chained to their desks. If you wanted a web application, you could rent some space on a server, somewhere, or keep one under your desk - either way, a lot of hassle. The advent of cloud hosting - combining cloud computing, cloud servers and cloud storage - has changed all that.
Web applications can be run on a range of servers, as if those servers were one machine. It's known as 'distributed computing' - one of the major facets of cloud computing itself. What does this mean for you, running the app? First, it means that you have better scalability: you can change how powerful your 'cloud computer' is simply by upgrading computational abilities, and likewise for altering cloud storage space. That's much better than having to add additional drives, processors or upgrades yourself. Cloud hosting outsources all these difficult, time-consuming and expensive jobs to other companies, who can charge a set price for the privilege.
Secondly, it means that your application has a more consistent, stable platform from which to run. This is a big deal if you're dealing with high traffic volumes, but it's not just useful for apps with big audiences. Stable and consistent platforms can provide integrated analytics and information about exactly what's going on inside your application - the kind of software you'd normally have to pay thousands of pounds to use.
Cloud computing and cloud hosting aren't just for businesses, though. Consumer-facing products, like Apple's iCloud and Google's services, synchronize your details across a range of devices via a cloud-hosted database. You can even extend and customize services similar to these through your own private cloud.