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‘Cloud Computing’ Could Transform Data Storage

Some businesses are beginning to embrace a technology called "cloud computing" -- storing data and programs on the Internet rather than on an individual company's computers. But critics worry about privacy issues. Spencer Michels reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, the first in a series of stories about how people are still innovating even in a time of recession. Tonight, a high-tech solution to some real-world computer problems.

    NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels has our Science Unit report.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    At Wag Hotels, an upscale dog care facility in San Francisco, life can get complicated for the humans. Some dogs come here for play, some for nail clips, some for vaccines. Some come for the day, some overnight.

    To keep track of schedules and appointments and supplies, managers have begun using what's called "cloud computing."

  • EMPLOYEE:

    You're looking for accommodations for your dog?

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    Rather then relying on programs bought and installed on company computers, Wag Hotels use programs and data stored on the Internet, or the "cloud."

    CEO Richard Groberg is a big enthusiast.

    RICHARD GROBERG, ceo, Wag Hotels: As we grow, that means more servers; that means more computers and software for all of our employees. With cloud computing, we essentially can have a dummy terminal for employee, and they go onto the Internet, and all of the applications are there waiting for them.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    Cloud computing is being touted as the next big thing in technology. The cloud, essentially, is the Internet. Data, then, is in the sky, or the clouds — that is, on the Internet, actually in some server, waiting to be called down to Earth, just the way you get information from MapQuest or a Google search.

    Using the ever-growing storage capacity of servers belonging to companies like Google or IBM, businesses and scientists and others store data on the Internet and then access that data and the programs to use it online only when they need it.

    It's like hiring taxis instead of owning a car, if you don't need one all the time. It's cheaper, and you don't have to worry about upkeep and breakdowns and parking.

    Salesforce.com, a business software service company, is one of the leaders in providing cloud computing. The firm has nearly 60,000 business customers.

    MARC BENIOFF, ceo, Salesforce.com: … this whole cloud that we have for infrastructure…

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    Marc Benioff, its CEO, has become an apostle for the concept.

  • MARC BENIOFF:

    You're not having to go out and choose, what software package is right for me? What hardware? Is this software going to work on this hardware? Oh, am I upgraded? Am I updated? All of that is done for you, just like it is on these consumer services. You don't upgrade Amazon.com.

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