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UP IN THE AIR UP IN THE By

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Community banks still tiptoe around the edge of cloud computing, but the promises of lower costs and the ability to roll out new services quickly have lured some to wade into using the new software technology. Everyone seems to hold a different interpretation of cloud computing, a metaphor for Internet companies' performing computer processes that usually operate on in-house computer hardware. Cloud computing, which includes the software-as-a-service delivery model, can allow banks to avoid investing in large IT projects and pay only for the computing services and capacity they need from vendors on the Internet, says Jeanne Capachin, research VP at IDC Financial Insights. Cloud applications that might be appropriate for banks, and that some banks have started using, include mobile phone, loan origination and compliance services. These services are pretty standardized across the banking industry and don't require cloud providers to store massive amounts of customer data.

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