I think the trick to the cloud is to automate creating new VMs when more capacity is needed and destroying them when not needed. Then, compared to paying for hardware support, power, backup systems, cooling, maintenance and periodic refresh VMs can be more economical, especially for a smaller company.
For a guy who has a handful of old-but-usable junk with a web server and some other stuff on 24/7 in his house, apparently owning is still cheaper than the cloud.
On the other hand, if I had lab cloud VMs programmed to power down/destroy after a certain amount of time it might be worth looking at again. But I’m not quite there yet. Right now I’m playing with Microsoft Server’s Tech preview which I need my own machine for. And I’m eager to try out Nano server as a Hyper-V host as well as Nano VMs. Somewhere in the pipeline is declarative provisioning and configuration lab work which might go better in the cloud, but I might be able to do it at home, too, with up to four Hyper-V hosts ready to go.
I also have a cloud at work, and some of the things I want to do are relevant to my job.