Cloud Services Gain Converts Among SMB Adopters: Microsoft Study

While finding that SMBs who have not adopted cloud list security as their greatest worry, a study reveals that 94 percent of those companies who did adopt cloud services cited just the opposite—security is the greatest benefit.

Although small and medium-size businesses who have not adopted cloud services distrust their level of security, reliability and privacy, the firms quickly become enamored of online services for their improved security and level of service, according to a survey released on June 11 by Microsoft.

The study, carried out in the U.S. and three European nations by survey firm comScore, found that SMBs that have not yet adopted the cloud had negative perceptions of the dangers of cloud services. On the other hand, those companies that had adopted cloud services had much more positive views of the security, privacy and reliability of software as a service (SaaS).

The results suggest that smaller firms' experience with the cloud highlights the benefits to their businesses, Tim Rains, director of product management for Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing group, told eWEEK.

"All of these barriers are holding businesses back from making a decision to move to the cloud, but the bottom line is that some of these businesses are more concerned than they should be," he said. Microsoft commissioned the ComScore study.

In the United States, 60 percent of SMBs cited a lack of security as a concern about moving their data to the cloud, while 45 percent and 42 percent worried about the impact on privacy and reliability, respectively.

Yet, 94 percent of the businesses who had moved at least one of their workloads to the cloud found that data security had improved after moving to cloud services. About three-quarters of companies experienced better service uptime and reliability from the cloud, while 62 percent stated that they had better privacy protections from their hosted service.

"It was a big change in perceptions," Rains said.

Other studies have shown that small and medium-size businesses are quickly adopting cloud services. In its survey of SMB technology use in the first six months of 2013, information-technology services firm SpiceWorks found that 61 percent of companies had adopted at least one cloud service. The most commonly adopted cloud services were Web hosting, email hosting and collaboration services, with the respondents using an average of 4.2 services.

Companies are able to reinvest in their businesses the savings in time and money gained by moving to cloud services, according to the ComScore survey. More than 70 percent of SMBs reinvested time and money saved, and half were able to pursue new business, Microsoft said.

For Microsoft and its Trustworthy Computing Initiative, the results show that the true barrier to cloud adoption is not overcoming weaknesses in the cloud model, but overcoming the distrust that small and medium businesses have in the technology.

"Trust is the bridge between just 'some' cloud use and more cloud use," Rains said.

Robert Lemos

Robert Lemos

Robert Lemos is an award-winning freelance journalist who has covered information security, cybercrime and technology's impact on society for almost two decades. A former research engineer, he's...