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GCI purchases local IT and cloud computing firm

GCI announced that it is doubling its cloud computing/IT services division with the purchase of Anchorage-based Network Business Systems for an undisclosed amount Aug. 6. With the purchase, GCI hopes to capitalize on expanding opportunities in hosted IT and cloud computing services.

Cloud computing allows people and businesses to store and process data remotely. The cloud services offered by Network Business Systems will add capacity and about 30 employees to GCI's existing business cloud-based computing infrastructure.

Network Business Systems has been offering cloud computing services since 2009, according to Annette Jones, who owned the tech business along with Melissa Rygh. Until recently, Jones said, the demand for cloud services in Alaska lagged behind the Lower 48. But that demand has grown over the last few years, she said. While GCI didn't offer the most money of the buy-out offers her company received, other factors convinced her and Rygh to sell.

"They did not make us the best offer, however we felt that they were the best buyer," Jones said. "What I mean by that is we thought that our employees had the best growth opportunities with GCI and so that's why we went with them."

GCI said that its acquisition of NBS would grow its cloud-based computing division to 60 employees. GCI said Jones and Rygh would continue to work with NBS employees and that current NBS employees will keep their jobs.

GCI spokesperson David Morris said the NBS purchase will help GCI grow its market and better serve its existing customers -- clients who want to know where their cloud data is being kept.

"Cloud computing is an emerging market, and the thing that we've found about Alaska businesses is that they would prefer that their data be stored in Alaska rather than some other place internationally," Morris said. "It makes a difference if you can come and touch and feel where your data is stored."