Cloud-based applications rising in popularity for SMBs

July 31, 2012

Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service applications are slowly gaining fans in the world of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). According to a study from Spiceworks, gains in employee productivity are overriding IT concerns over cloud computing data security as companies deploying these applications see the potential benefits of migration.
Among the most popular services that SMBs take advantage of are applications for file sharing, email and productivity. Changes in the technology culture of businesses drive many of these new adoptions, with increased mobility heralding an era of IT consumerization.

"Many of the complex technologies once reserved for IT departments have been simplified, so today's tech-savvy employee can install their own cloud-based applications in minutes," Spiceworks executive director of Vendor Marketing Adam Weinroth said. "This wave of consumerization is forcing IT departments and technology vendors to rethink the way they design, build and implement technology solutions."

Growing marketplace
Despite the rising tide consumerization and a push for adoption, many companies are still holding off. For instance, file-sharing has penetrated into just 33 percent of companies - at least as far as the IT professionals were aware. While 75 percent noted the accessibility benefits, 73 percent highlighted lack of control and issues with data security in the cloud.

Among cloud-based application suites designed to increase employee productivity, the adoption rate was only slightly higher, with 35 percent of respondents using one or planning to. The suites were primarily designed for tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and similar office tasks. Although hesitation was high across the cloud, North American companies were 8 percent more likely to have migrated those services than companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

When it came to email systems, more companies had adopted cloud-hosted options than with file-sharing and productivity, but on-premise solutions still hold the majority of the market. Even with hosted email nipping at its heels, 52 percent still prefered the on-premise option. Forty-two percent currently used cloud-based email, with an additional 6 percent moving within six months.

Email security
Although security was less of an issue than cloud-based transfers, email still can pose a potential threat. According to Business Computing World (BCW), the simultaneous movements of cloud computing and mobility, through bring-your-own-device (BYOD), has seen email security take center stage.

BYOD and the cloud have their own inherent security concerns, but bringing them all together creates what Richard Parris of BCW called "a complex melting pot of security challenges surrounding the secure transfer of sensitive data via email."

-McAfee Cloud Security