To gain a better understanding of the state of cloud computing, Microsoft commissioned a 2010 survey of approximately 3,000 business decision-makers across the United States. Microsoft’s “Cloud Forecast for U.S. Business,” conducted by global research firm Ipsos, found that more than half of the survey respondents’ companies have adopted cloud computing, with the leading uses being for collaboration tools (56 percent), storage (48 percent), and servers (48 percent). Companies were most comfortable hosting via the cloud everyday working documents that are used and shared by multiple people (64 percent), e-mail (57 percent), transactional/operational data (45 percent), and customer relationship information (42 percent).
Lower total cost of ownership (27 percent) and up-front capital costs (26 percent), along with reduced IT staff workload (21 percent) and the promise of data always backed up (20 percent) are the top reasons why companies are implementing cloud applications and services. These costs savings are being achieved in cloud computing scenarios because IT resources can adjust to the dynamic nature of business demands.
Concern about data security and privacy (41 percent), not having full control of data (31 percent), and worries about data integrity (24 percent) were among the greatest potential deterrents to cloud adoption.
Microsoft and other companies are responding to these concerns by working to build more secure systems and datacenters and adhering to clear, responsible privacy and security practices — from software development through service delivery, operation, and support. Many security experts note that cloud computing can advance security. Most cloud computing providers have greater security expertise and better security controls than most enterprises and even most government agencies.
Attitudes toward cloud computing
The business decision-makers surveyed were asked about their prognosis for cloud adoption. Most respondents (83 percent) said that companies will use both cloud and traditional approaches for years to come, but most (59 percent) also believed that eventually all companies will be using cloud computing.
The attitude at Microsoft is that cloud computing is the next big transition for business. As evidence, the company currently employs about 40,000 people worldwide who are involved in building software and about 70 percent of those employees are working on entirely cloud-based or cloud-inspired projects. By a year from now, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer predicts that number will jump to 90 percent.
Microsoft’s advice on the best long-term approach is to pick a cloud computing platform that delivers a consistent, connected experience. Your firm should be empowered to choose whatever combination of on-premise software and hosted services that work best for your business — with the flexibility to change as needed.
Brian D. Zeve, managing director for Microsoft Corp.’s U.S. Professional Services Group, leads the company’s sales and services efforts for the architectural, engineering, and construction industry. He can be contacted at email@example.com.