Microsoft Survey Says SMB Cloud Services Adoption Slow, Steady

According to Microsoft's SMB Cloud Adoption Study 2011, which polled more than 3,000 SMBs with 250 or fewer employees in 16 countries, including the U.S., 39 percent will leverage at least one cloud service within three years. That percentage coincides with other market estimations that predicts the SMB will be the fastest growing segment for cloud adoption in coming years. In one piece of research, AMI Partners estimated that SMB cloud spending would near $100 billion by 2014.

The 39 percent of SMBs expected to utilize cloud services is an increase over the 29 percent that currently use at least one cloud computing offering, Microsoft's research found. Additionally, Microsoft found that the number of cloud services that SMBs will pay for will nearly double in many countries over the next three years.

Overall, Microsoft's survey found that the SMBs that move to the cloud will use an average of 3.3 services each, up from less than two services today. And the larger the business is on the SMB spectrum, the more it will pay for cloud services. Microsoft said that 56 percent of companies with between 51 and 250 employees will pay for an average of 3.7 cloud services within three years.

And Microsoft estimates that 43 percent of workloads will become paid cloud services, yet 28 percent will remain on-premise while 29 percent will be free or bundled with other services.

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"Cloud adoption will be gradual, and SMBs will continue to operate in a hybrid model with an increasing blend between off-premises and traditional on-premises infrastructure, for the foreseeable future," Marco Limena, Microsoft vice president in its Worldwide Communications Sector, said in a statement.

The increased interested in the cloud from SMBs creates new opportunities for hosting service providers to profit from offering services in the cloud, like e-mail, collaboration, data storage and back-up.

"As cloud computing becomes more ubiquitous and SMBs' existing IT becomes outdated, adoption will grow rapidly. Hosting service providers should consider the appropriate sales, delivery and support models to target larger SMB customers that are more likely to pay for cloud services," Limena added.