UK SMEs are lagging behind their continental counterparts in their adoption of cloud computing, according to research.
Remote data storage was cited as the most common service used by SMEs, while e-mail and office software, such as word processing and spreadsheets, are the most common software applications accessed from the cloud.
But Quocirca analyst Clive Longbottom says cloud adoption across European countries varies. "At the moment, cloud adoption tends to be greater in SMEs than larger organisations. But we've got to bear in mind what [these countries] mean by cloud computing. In some countries definitions of the cloud may be looser and include Google maps and virus updates, whereas in the UK definitions are likely to be more specific.
However, Scandinavia and Germany are ahead of the UK in adoption rates, he adds. "The Nordic regions tend to be more pragmatic about using the cloud, as does Germany. But in the UK SMEs tend to be a bit more conservative - technology still scares a lot of them."
Chris Jagusz, retail managing director at IT specialist Daisy Group, said: "The earliest adopters are technically oriented start-ups with no installed base of systems, people who are comfortable with putting their applications and data in the cloud."
Industry consultancy IDC estimates that companies spent £9.8bn globally on cloud-related technology in 2009 and forecasts this will increase to $55bn by 2014. Spending by SMEs represents almost half the total.
The research from VMware questioned 1,600 SMEs across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain and the UK.