"a way to turn something you used to pay for once into a monthly forever and ever payment"
Not necessarily, no. If I buy my own kit, I need to care about support contracts for that kit, end of life status for that kit, upgrades, system design for (infrastructure-level) uptime etc.. If I use a cloud service (I hate the word, but it's stuck so there we go) then I don't need to do that.
It's trade-off. Cloud is not all good, but it's not all bad either. A lot of gardening-style detail of looking after kit goes away, but clearly there are still things you need to worry about.