Cloud Computing Used by a Fifth of SMEs

Cloud ComputingA fifth of UK small firms are using hosted IT services, so-called “cloud computing”, research from Microsoft has found.

Microsoft’s global survey of 3,193 small and medium-sized firms found that 20.9% of those in the UK use cloud computing for services like email and accounting.

Cloud computing is a way of using the Internet to support work-related tasks people perform on their computers, such as storing and sharing information. Instead of purchasing software and having to install it on their PC, the applications are hosted on secure servers they access over the Internet “in the cloud”.

Users can access software and input or extract data via their browser. Because the software and services are delivered over the web, there is no need to install their own server.

According to Microsoft, more small firms are turning to cloud technology as a cheaper option than running systems in-house.

“One advantage is that services are bought on a pay-per-need basis, so firms only pay a fee for what they need and are not required to keep updating technology,”

said a Microsoft spokesman.

The survey also highlighted that reduced costs and less IT management were the main reasons cited by small firms for adopting cloud technology.

Nearly three quarters (73%) of businesses surveyed said they had considered using cloud computing, compared with just 44% two years ago. The UK is now the third biggest user of hosted IT services in Europe, after France and Spain, according to the survey.

“Over the last five years, we have seen nearly 40% growth in global usage of hosted services among small firms,”

said Microsoft’s director of EMEA Software, Michael Korbacher.

“Using pay-as-you-go cloud technologies, small businesses can now afford and easily have access to enterprise-class, secure services across any platform.”

Business continuity firm Backup Direct’s managing director, Brett Raynes, said that the lack of set up costs and ongoing affordability were the two key benefits for small firms.

“It also allows the business to operate from different sites rather than being forced to sit people together on a local network, or to grow and move offices without having to shift much more than a few PCs.”

However, Raynes added that security concerns were an issue for some businesses.

“There is a perception that their systems and information might be somehow drifting around the atmosphere. Firms need to use a reputable service provider and always check service level agreements carefully for security procedures.”

Cloud Computing Used by a Fifth of SMEs

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