A new survey of UK businesses with fewer than 500 employees, conducted by Computing magazine, found widespread use of cloud services was helping them "punch their weight" against larger competitors. One thing this shows is just how quickly a sector can move toward a new technology, if the timing and conditions are right.
Back in April 2011, the UK midtier seemed to lag behind European peers when it came to migrating services to cloud platforms. Based on a review by VMWare, The Telegraph reported:
On average 60pc of SMEs had adopted some internet-based IT compared to only 48pc in the UK.The most common service used by SMEs was storing data remotely rather than on the office server or PC hard drives. Email and office software, like word processing and spreadsheets, were the most common software applications to be accessed from the cloud rather than installed directly.
Reluctance seems to have been based on a perception that IT vendors were pushing hard to sell cloud solutions that were at an early stage of development and not yet competitively priced.
In October 2011, some analysts predicted that cloud uptake by the UK midmarket was set to "explode." While hopes of an explosion may have been hyperbolic, there were signs this prediction was on the right track: "Right now around 18 percent of UK SMEs use cloud solutions, but a further 30 percent plan to implement them over the next year."
The Computing magazine survey shows that 49 percent of SMEs have implemented cloud solutions, or have implementation actually underway, while a further 26 percent are considering this route. The implication is that, another year from now, more than 70 percent of smaller enterprises in the UK are likely to have coopted cloud computing for at least some of their operations and services.
That's a healthy figure, especially for a sector, which only 18 months ago could be described as "lagging."
One benefit of cloud migration is an expanded market. Computing reports:
Like the internet before it, cloud computing is giving small firms access to markets that would otherwise be out of their reach. For example, cloud providers are generally certified for security (eg ISO 27001), a key box-ticking requirement for many potential large customers and a qualification that the SME itself may not be in any position to obtain.
The trend seems to have been for smaller companies to make use of public cloud services, like those offered by Microsoft and Amazon. Cloud-based CRM systems are also proving popular.
Europe as a whole has been trailing the US in terms of enterprise cloud adoption, but the positive trend now seems clear, especially with the UK finally on board. And with more than 20 million SMEs in Europe, that's good news for cloud service providers.
— Kim Davis , Community Editor, Internet Evolution