The Cloud is more than just blue sky thinking
There's no shortage of doom and gloom around for businesses at the moment - but computer giant Microsoft wants us all to be on cloud nine in a couple of years' time.
Nigel Mulholland of NITEC, a partner of Microsoft in Northern Ireland, maintains cloud computing will be widespread among Northern Ireland small to medium sized enterprises in the next three years.
Mr Mulholland made his prediction as the US corporation marked a decade of operating in the province.
Jan Muehlfeit, chairman of Microsoft Europe, flew into Ireland from an even snowier Prague to mark the anniversary at an event in the Culloden Hotel for customers and partners in Northern Ireland.
Microsoft has been promoting cloud computing as the next step in computing - "like going from horses to cars," according to Mr Muehlfeit.
He said: "The cloud offers significant potential to the economy as a whole if public and private sector embrace it early.
"Northern Ireland could become a centre of excellence for cloud computing, a location for inward investment and could use this as a platform to drive a competitive strategy."
Cloud computing is a service which allows a business to access its data and software over the internet, hosted by a third party.
The change to cloud computing has been compared to the process of computing moving from mainframes to PCs or the impact of the internet.
Nigel Mulholland said his goal was to "take the crown jewels of Microsoft and make them available to the little guys".
"Every client of mine within three to four years will be asking themselves the question, and a growing subset of them will find themselves with compelling reasons to move to the cloud."