Discussion over the cloud and the need for businesses to adopt a cloud-first policy is everywhere in the IT sector at current, dominating conversations in company boardrooms and online communities alike. With the cloud offering seamless updates to existing services amongst other benefits, it is only natural that it is viewed in some quarters as the most assured way of securing business for the long-term.

With this in mind, it is important to consider the pace at which businesses are adopting cloud technologies. The Paessler Cloud Acceptance Study looked into attitudes towards the cloud amongst SMEs, and looked at who is leading the way, how they’re getting there, and also some of the issues preventing them from taking up cloud services at an even faster rate.

The key to growth

SMEs hold a privileged status within the UK as what some refer to as the ‘engine room’ of the economy. Given their ability to scale quickly as well stay agile and adapt to the rapid changes going on in their marketplace, it is widely recognised that they have a pivotal role to play in driving the country forward economically.

This is further endorsed by their sheer dominance of the business world in the UK. The Federation of Small Business (FSB) found in a 2016 study that 99.9% of all private businesses would be classed as small or medium-sized. Because of their ‘challenger brand’ mentality, they also often lead the way when it comes to adopting new technologies and innovative trends, forging the way for other companies to follow suit.

The results of our cloud survey reinforce this idea, finding that 70% of SMEs already use cloud technology as part of their IT infrastructure, or are planning to do so shortly. Clearly, in this area, SMEs are showing living up to their reputations as ‘early adopters’ by spearheading the path to a prosperous digital economy, and jumping on these trends earlier on and in significant numbers.

Overcoming barriers

However, there is also reticence on the behalf of some SMEs to dive head first into the cloud. Just some issues that have cropped up are data security, the costs incurred by updating an entire system, and also a lack of knowledge within SMEs.

[easy-tweet tweet=”IT can often find its way to the bottom of the list of priorities” hashtags=”IT, Data”]

These concerns are hardly surprising on one level. It is unlikely that many SMEs will have enough resource in their IT departments to devote a staff member solely to cyber security, and so keeping customer and client data secure is bound to be front of mind when it comes to making changes to company IT. In addition, the idea of committing often sparse resources to the upfront costs associated with shifting to the cloud takes some careful thought for SME owners. With a budget that needs to cover other factors such as staffing, marketing and product development, IT can often find its way to the bottom of the list of priorities.

However, small businesses are beginning to find ways to address these issues. In terms of security, the three major cloud providers, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, provide access to round-the-clock teams devoted to protecting their data. In many ways, it could be argued that this level of attention actually improves security. And in terms of addressing the cost, the Hybrid Cloud has emerged as a viable alternative for many of these businesses, providing the opportunity to combine cloud services and on-premise infrastructure into a mixed network.

Delivering value

The growing number of SMEs shifting their IT to the cloud cannot simply be explained by good marketing from the big three cloud providers. The cloud presents obvious opportunities when it comes to small and medium sized business in terms of saving time and money, scalability, and long-term IT strategies:

  • Freeing up time and lowering long-term cost

For instance, whether a business is delivering website content or download link to its products or services, using a cloud-based delivery network is the best efficient way of getting the desired information out to customers. It’s generally cheaper than using a data centre for the same purpose, and also faster.

  • Securing and stabilising the IT network

Most SMEs will only have a small core team devoted to the IT network on a day-to-day basis. Cyber security is an issue that constantly comes up in considerations for small businesses, and having a cloud provider take responsibility for it, with their far larger resources given over to security, is often seen as the safest and most secure option.

  • Reassessing the IT infrastructure

In a broader sense, moving to the cloud also provides SMEs with the ideal opportunity to take another look at their IT networks, and ask whether it is still working as hard as it can for their business. Whether it’s asking whether legacy systems are being used in the way they should be, or whether the wider IT system can be simplified, nothing is off the table when it comes to shifting to the cloud.

Making the shift

Ultimately, the advent of the cloud is set to continue apace, having already changed the way we do business and perceive technology. Given that small businesses as a whole are already at the forefront of this trend, it is almost assured that more and more SMEs will continue to move their services to the cloud, and carry on driving cloud uptake in the UK.