Boston tops in cloud; wishes for sunshine instead

Microsoft focuses on location, not how fast SMBs are adopting SAAS, cloud

Given the winter storms that have made clear a minor shift in the Jet Stream has turned New England into Minnesota, the results of a survey on the popularity of cloud in various cities may have changed.

The New Ice Age city of Boston ranked No. 1 in the list of cities in which cloud computing is most popular with large companies, according to a survey from 7th Sense Research that was funded by Microsoft.

Oddly the survey of 2,211 "IT decision makers" in 10 metro areas, found far more differences in the way SMBs and large companies approach cloud computing.

For example, Boston doesn't even make the top 5 list of cities in which cloud is most popular with SMBs, ceding the top spot to Washington, D.C.

Microsoft's analysis focused on attitudes in different cities, which is probably relevant only to people trying to sell cloud services, not those trying to buy them.

And the report itself has oddities such as a table marked "IT Impact of Moving to the Cloud," that shows the range of responses on buy-vs-build.

"Impact" issues I typically hear from IT managers at companies both large and small have more to do with the cloud's impact on their ability to deliver on an SLA, reorganizations to eliminate silos among departments with different technical specialties, changes in budget, improvements in operations, security and interoperability.

So the intent of the study appears to be an effort to identify the companies and cities most likely to be good targets for people selling cloud, not to show those customers what the experience of their peers has been.

Still, in the data that does seem relevant, there's one big anomaly: There is a far bigger gap between acceptance of cloud in large companies and SMBs.

In the 7th Sense/Microsoft study, 41 percent of large companies said they have at least one cloud project planned or underway already compared to only 16 percent of SMBs.

By contrast, a July study from LAN-management vendor Spiceworks found 38 percent of very small companies were adopting cloud, compared to 22 percent of mid-sized companies.

A December survey of 1,000 SMBs from tech-marketing vendor MarketBridge found 44 percent have at least one application in the cloud and 70 percent will launch or expand cloud portfolios during 2011.

Even the details of the Microsoft study highlight the reasons behind those numbers, though the numbers contradict results fromother analysts as well.

Among SMBs, most analysts and surveys (and the SMBs) have said, IT resources are so much more limited that clouds have a much greater impact by offloading capital costs and making top-flight equipment and IT skills available to companies that could otherwise not afford them.

One big problem may be the definition of "cloud" and the tendency of business-unit managers to buy video, email, SFA or other SAAS or cloud services without telling the CIO or even assuming IT would care. A June survey of Global 2000 companies showed that almost every large company was using a SAAS application or cloud service of one kind or another, but that only 25 percent of the IT departments were aware of it.

Top 5 things cloud allows you to do

SMB Enterprise
Improve bottom line, cost savings Reduce IT workload
Provide increased security Deploy new function/applications faster
Reduce IT workload Improve bottom line, cost savings
Ensure we have latest upgrades or versions Scale technology as business grows and develops
Deploy new function/applications faster Abandon legacy systems

Source: Microsoft/7th Sense Research

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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