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    NACStech: Should C-stores Join the Cloud?

    PCATS group working on white paper for petroleum/c-store industry.

    Las Vegas -- Doug Tidwell, senior software engineer at IBM, calls himself a software evangelist. He and David Ezell, principal software architect at Verifone, gave a presentation here at NACStech on the business benefits of cloud computing.

    Called "Time to Get Your Head in the Cloud," Tidwell presented a case study of a real world implementation of cloud computing by North Carolina State University.

    Prior to that Ezell noted PCATs is preparing a white paper on how to use the cloud, as a companion to a paper released recently by NRF on using the cloud at retail. Ezell said that the NRF white paper is good, but designed more for large big box retailers and that the petroleum/c-store industry and smaller box retailers need their own blueprint for saving money and growing their business using the cloud.

    Cloud computing basically means the sharing of processing resources over a network of computers. While there are real obstacles to widespread use of cloud computing, such as departmental loss of control, ultimately the business case is so strong for cloud computing that more and more companies will utilize this technique.

    "People who have substantiated results from moving things to the cloud have said that the most difficult obstacles are cultural and political, not technological," said Tidwell.

    Tidwell explained to audience members how North Carolina State created a Virtual Computing Lab that allowed students and researchers to share time on the network of computers. For retailers, Tidwell envisioned cloud computing allowing the payroll department to use processing time only twice a month when checks need to be cut, for example. The other times, that computing power could be put to other uses.

    Cloud computer means more computing power with few resources, concluded Tidwell.


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