Cloud computing is a term that's being tossed around a lot recently. So much that it has practically become a "buzz word" in the tech industry driven largely by marketing and service offerings from big players like Google, IBM and Amazon - not to mention speculation revolving around Microsoft's Midori project and a recent initiative by HP, Intel and Yahoo.

Not wanting to be left out of the party, AT&T today announced it is entering the cloud computing market with the worldwide launch of a service called AT&T Synaptic Hosting - which makes sense for the telco seeing that they already own the bandwidth, network and have data centers around the world.

The service relieves companies of the burden of managing their own data centers by offering them data storage and the ability to manage applications and computing resources, all while being charged on a on a pay-as-you-go basis. Customers will be able to manage their accounts through an AT&T portal and receive personalized support as well as application monitoring and reporting.

Meanwhile another major telco, Verizon, is also planning to join the fray next year with a cloud-computing service of their own. I wonder if these companies are aware that Dell is attempting to trademark the term 'cloud computing,' and more importantly, how would it affect them.