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Cloud Computing Still Pie in Sky

"There are some baby steps today, but the big inflection point is further out - three to five years," said Huberty. "The first companies to move to that will be SMBs, for example, I can go and rent capacity from somebody that has massive scale."

Other hurdles in the path of cloud computing include lack of standards for the technology, which has already prompted some bitchy vendor in-fighting and general wariness of new concepts.

Microsoft's recent decision to provide Office as an online service should nonetheless give a boost to the cloud model.

"I think it will set some light on cloud computing and bring it into greater visibility," says Roger Kay, president of analyst firm Endpoint Technologies Associates.

As far as tech investors are concerned, however, it could be some time before businesses really spend big and put their heads in the cloud.

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