Why More Businesses Are Using Cloud Computing

Are you a cloud-w


atcher? If you run a small business, the answer is increasingly "yes." Cloud computing has gone mainstream and is playing an increasingly integral role in information technology operations for all shapes and sizes of businesses, a new survey shows.

When it comes to cloud computing, businesses are hitting cloudy weather and they're loving it, according to annual survey of 500 business and IT professionals in the U.S. who are involved in IT decision-making. The study was sponsored by CompTIA, a nonprofit IT industry trade association.

More than eight in 10 companies currently use some form of cloud solution, and more than half plan to increase cloud investments by 10 percent or more this year, the survey found. And the cloud is not in play only with big companies; more than half of micro (one to nine employees) and small (10 to 99 employees) businesses use cloud-based business productivity applications.

And nearly a third (28 percent) of micro and small businesses are currently using infrastructure as a service (IaaS), farming out nearly the whole IT kit-and-caboodle to the cloud.

Fifty percent of respondents say they are moving to the cloud because of a desire to cut costs, the survey found. But the cloud is also attractive because IT management feels it's a better option (44 percent), it will reduce capital expenditures (43 percent) and provide a relatively painless path to modernization of legacy IT systems (42 percent).

The investments firms are planning are based on positive sentiments — 85 percent of survey respondents feel more positive about cloud computing than they did last year. This popularity is driving both IT and business staff to experiment with cloud options and re-examine the role and functions of IT.

Cloud adoption by small businesses is also a function of increased familiarity, the survey found, with the percentage of small businesses that say they are familiar or very familiar with cloud computing nearly tripling from 27 percent last year to 78 percent now.

It's also leveling the playing field by making access to high-tech tools of the trade more affordable.

"Advanced software for analytics, unified communications, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and other sophisticated technology solutions were often out of the price range or skill set of many businesses," said Carolyn April, CompTIA's director of industry analysis. "With cloud-based solutions and delivery and either set monthly pricing or a pay-as-you-go model, these technologies come within the financial reach of even the smallest of small businesses."