Mid-sized companies call cloud overrated; more than half have no cloud plans at all

Focused on a specific company profile, survey highlights surprising variance in cloud micro-markets

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Even Microsoft's own survey of SMBs (PDF) (wth fewer than 250 employees) shows 66 percent are using some type of cloud service and 29 percent are using services for which they pay.

At SWC, 54 percent of companies said they have no cloud projects underway at all.

Of those that do use cloud services of any kind, 65 percent use Microsoft's Exchange Online, 48 percent use Microsoft SharePoint Online and 24 percent use Google Apps.

That's where the mid-market bias comes in.

According to SWC, Gartner and Forrester surveys, cloud services pay off more quickly for small companies than for mid-sized companies, because they give companies with only a handful of IT people access to top-level IT infrastructures and applications.

Large companies tend to need too much customization to use a lot of generic services, so they sign up for SalesForce and Exchange and SharePoint to save support, but the bulk of their cloud projects tend to be internal cloud infrastructure development, or longer-term pilot tests and slow-growing projects built using infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) offerings from Amazon or Rackspace or other data-center outsourcing and hosting companies.

Mid-sized companies don't have the quick payoff that lets small companies forget about the risks to privacy and security in trusting the cloud, or the complexities that would justify heavy development of spillover data-center capacity on IAAS services such as Amazon's EC2 or platform-as-a-service (PAAS) products such as Microsoft's Azure. Both are designed to provide extra data-center capacity companies can use to cover spikes in demand or projects they don't want to run internally.

Mid-sized companies can benefit quickly by offloading labor-intensive support and hosting of Microsoft apps like SharePoint and Exchange, however, so that's where they focus their cloud projects, the report found.

Of the respondents surveyed by SWC, only 7.4 percent were using Amazon's EC2.

The leading reason SWC respondents didn't adopt cloud were privacy and security (cited by 21 percent) and cost (cited by 9.8 percent.

The speed with which cloud and SAAS products are being adopted is under almost constant debate. The most likely reason is that "cloud computing services" covers such a broad area of both applications and scope of individual projects that it's hard to estimate how quickly the whole pie is growing. Cloud computing isn't just one big pie; it's a lot of little pies in a lot of different flavors, different combinations of which appeal to different segments of the corporate IT market.

This particular survey, at least, marks out boundaries for the size, location, industry and technology focus of the companies it surveyed in great enough detail to shed some light on that particular segment.

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