There is a huge gap between the perceptions of cloud users and non-cloud users about the security, privacy and reliability of cloud-based services, a UK study of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) has revealed.
Some 52% of non-cloud users cited concerns about security as a barrier to adoption, while 94% of cloud users experienced security benefits, a comScore poll of more than 200 companies with 25 to 499 PC users showed.
Cloud users said the biggest benefits were that fewer internal IT resources were needed (58%) and the time saved in managing IT (49%).
Similarly, 45% of non-cloud users were concerned that using the cloud would result in a lack of control over their data, while 68% of cloud users said their levels of privacy protection increased by moving to the cloud and 45% said they felt “very comfortable” with their cloud provider’s ability to manage data privacy.
Reliability and cost
While 51% of non-cloud users expressed concerns about the reliability of the cloud, 82% of cloud users said they experienced improved service availability since moving to the cloud.
Most cloud users (93%) said they were confident their cloud provider could restore services during an outage quickly and efficiently.
Half of cloud users also said the frequency and length of system downtime had decreased since moving to the cloud, and 74% said they were more confident in the integrity of their data using a cloud service.
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Most cloud users reported cost savings, with 78% re-investing those savings in other areas of their business, while 60% have pursued new opportunities because of the time saved in managing security.
Investing in product development and innovation was cited as the main saving re-investment for SMEs that have adopted the cloud.
Mind the gap
“The results show the perception gap closes quickly once people experience cloud services,” said Adrienne Hall, general manager of Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft, which commissioned the study.
“Once businesses adopt cloud services, the benefits outweigh concerns, and this is consistent across similar studies in France, Germany and the US,” she told Computer Weekly.
The studies across all regions show that concerns on the part of non-cloud users are holding them back from the benefits experienced by cloud users.
“SMEs that are using the cloud are seeing value beyond the main cloud benefits of flexibility and agility, such as time savings on security updates and checks,” said Hall.
Another example of unexpected benefits is of a manufacturing firm in Asia Pacific that said, in a similar survey a year before, that it had cut its brand promotion budget after its cloud email provider added the company name to all out-going emails.
“While security, privacy and reliability are perceived to be barriers to cloud adoption by non-users, these are the very areas that users are seeing the most benefits,” she said.
Hall said the survey results also indicate that users' perceived benefits of cloud is also increasing as cloud computing and users mature.
“A greater proportion of cloud users are reporting improved service availability than they were in similar studies done in Asia Pacific,” she said.
The updated release extends the range of industry standards covered by the tool to include the European Network and Information Security Agency Information Assurance Framework (ENISA IAF) and standards overseen by the British Standards Institution (BSI).
“Organisations are keen to understand how cloud adoption would compare with their existing on-premises policies, procedures and compliance, and that can be a complex task,” said John Howie, chief operating officer, Cloud Security Alliance (CSA).
“In the CSA, industry leaders have collaborated to develop best practice security guidance. Microsoft’s Cloud Security Readiness Tool builds on these efforts as it gives organisations a way to more easily evaluate cloud services against critical areas, as well as against compliance with key industry standards like ENISA IAF and BSI.”