Whether you label it cloud, or managed, or hosted, or as-a-service, or something else – its lexicon is growing with its ubiquity – it is clear that more businesses in the mid-market are beginning to take advantage of the many benefits ‘it’ entails.
According to findings from the 2013 Claranet Research Programme 73 per cent of businesses were using some form of cloud service compared with 62 per cent the year before.
The benefits from utilising cloud - scalability, resiliency, efficiency and sustainability - are beginning to outweigh the concerns businesses previously had in terms of adoption.
Particularly for SMBs where the IT function of organisations is often not that developed, the pressure to succeed with less internal resource is more pronounced. Therefore the need to outsource day-to-day responsibility, while retaining executive control, is a particularly attractive option, as it allows stretched IT teams to concentrate on making a noticeable difference on a more strategic level.
Correspondingly rates of cloud adoption in the mid-market are even higher, with 81 per cent of organisations now using some form of cloud service according to the survey.
However, while vendors and industry bodies are clearly changing attitudes on cloud the same fears still appear as barriers preventing adoption.
Managed service providers are beginning to better understand the concerns of businesses, providing solutions addressing issues of security, migration and data sovereignty but there is more work to do. As vendors create services better suited to the user's needs and educate the public on the different ways it can be consumed, cloud becomes ever more ingrained as a method of consuming IT that decision makers are comfortable with.
Stories that crossover into mainstream media, such as the Prism controversy, highlight issues like data sovereignty, and can act as deterrents to potential adopters. It is possible the increase in reported fears about data sovereignty – up from 47% in 2012 to 53% - can in some part be attributed to this story. However, there is also a positive flip-side to this type of negative coverage, as actually when the issue of data sovereignty is highlighted people learn more about it and understand the need to find a provider who deals with their data effectively.
Those reputable providers whose services aren't, for example, affected by the grasping tendrils of the Patriot Act naturally emerge with their reputations intact, gaining acclaim and customers. Inevitably the industry as a whole examines itself and begins to recalibrate its practises in order to satisfy potential customers, and in the process managed service providers move closer to the trusted partner model that suits both their business and their consumers.
While data sovereignty continues to be a concern, the significant increase in cloud adopters in 2013 indicates that while its profile as an issue has been raised, it is not necessarily an insurmountable impediment to adoption. The industry is beginning to reshape itself, to better answer the questions and concerns surrounding cloud, and those providers, who do convince businesses their data will be well managed, now that data issues have received elevated exposure, will ultimately come to dominate the market.
More findings from the Claranet Research Programme will be released in the coming weeks.