UK firms wary of the cloud as US forges ahead

UK firms wary of the cloud as US forges ahead

Summary: New research highlights the contrasting attitudes towards using the cloud in the US and the UK.


Businesses in the UK are less keen on the cloud than their US counterparts, according to a survey.

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The study found that 58 percent of US businesses were already using the cloud for private data storage, compared to just 35 percent in the UK.

Nearly half of US businesses are using the cloud for capacity management, compared to just a quarter in the UK. And almost twice as many organisations in the US have considered a more integrated supply chain using the cloud (81 percent versus 41 percent), according to the study.

The research, revealed by Redwood Software on Friday, also found that twice as many US organisations are using cloud to automate business processes than in the UK. The study surveyed 100 UK and 200 US IT decision makers.

"When you look at technology adoption generally, US organisations are more amenable to trying things whereas UK organisations adopt more of a wait-and-see policy," Redwood Software's global marketing VP, Simon Shah, told ZDNet.

Using automation software to schedule repeatable and menial tasks — such as delivering operational reports or ordering new parts or stock — can free up staff to do other jobs. But Shah claimed that businesses who run the automation processes in the cloud stand to gain even more.

Businesses using a hybrid cloud model whereby they store data on their own on-premise servers but use the cloud to run software that automates processes stand to save time and money, while reducing their commitment to on-premises software, he said.

"US organisations are more amenable to trying things whereas UK organisations adopt more of a wait-and-see policy" — Simon Shah

Of the US businesses using the cloud to automate processes, 71 percent said they gained improved agility in supporting business needs, 57 percent said they saw a faster return on investment, and 45 percent said they had reduced labour costs.

In contrast, UK businesses responded with 47 percent, 36 percent and 29 percent, respectively. UK businesses not using the cloud to automate processes are reluctant to do so because they fear they would not have enough control, with 27 percent citing this as their main reason. In the US, by contrast, 17 percent cited this as a factor.

A further 17 percent of UK businesses said they considered using the cloud to automate processes too risky, while 16 percent said they didn't have the resources.

Topics: Cloud, Enterprise Software, United Kingdom

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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  • Infrastructure is the key

    I think a part of the problem is that broadband connectivity in the UK is patchy at best. Whilst some areas have FTC, the majority still do not and as such businesses are concerned about the delays cloud implementation could result in.

    Additionally, even the connectivity that is available is unreliable; what do you do if your staff cannot access your business in the cloud because your ISP has failed again?
    Martin Robins
  • Thank BT...

    In addition to a deep distrust of US-based cloud providers - along with the legal implications of data being held outside UK legal jurisdiction, we also have major infrastructural problems to contend with, here in Old Blighty.

    Our national telecoms provider is an outfit called British Telecom - AKA BT.

    BT was created when Maggy Thatcher privatised the old GPO (General Post Office). Like so many of our shabby privatised utilities, BT retained its predecessor's blundering incompetence and total lack of regard for its customers, whilst completely discarding any notion of its former public service ethic, in favour of seeking ever-greater profits for its shareholders.

    Consequently, we now have one of the poorest broadband services in Europe. Despite the half-baked attempts by our various governments to improve the situation, e.g. the "aim" to have high-speed "hybrid" broadband available in 90% of homes by 2017, a small but significant number of homes will still have no broadband at all.

    The scheme is a typically British cut-price affair. Basically BT will splice new runs of fibre-optics with crappy old copper cables - some of which are over 100 years old. It will all be cobbled-together in leaky old cabinets, notorious for filling with water every time there is a light shower within 20 miles. And that all assumes our politicians and BT will break the habit-of-a-lifetime and actually deliver what they promised, on time.

    Bottom line is that many business users regard "the cloud" to be fine for Facebook and Farmville and their ilk. But few business people on this side of The Pond would entrust their livelihood to it - especially with BT in charge of all the pipes.

    Best wishes, G
    • Not All of the U.S. is Cloud Crazy

      There are still a lot of things that need to be worked out even in the U.S. There are public clouds and provate clouds. Private clouds make business uneay because of the outlay of funds and the purchase of new technology. Public clouds have issues in the area of security and governance (government privacy regulations) that most public cloud providers not only claim that they are not in compliance with government regulations (claim that they don't have to be) but they say they can do almost anything they want with your data. That let's out healthcare (HIPAA regulations) and law enforcement (CJIS regulations). We are about to allow one single provider that is going to be HIPAA and CJIS compliant by contract while some of our law enforcement departments are investing in private cloud systems. Companies in the U.S. already have an extensive network structure that supports high-speed networking. Some companies don't want to go with portable devices due to fear of theft (it is easy to stick a tablet in a newspaper and walk out) and employees trying out touch tablets have decided they prefer mice. So, I really don't think a lot of major players are really diving into the clouds just yet.
  • Those differences in percentage of adoption, might be attributable to

    the different sizes of the countries, and to the scope of business conducted by the companies involved.

    A country the size of the U.S. would have business people traveling more to more distant locations, which might necessitate that, cloud services be used to hold a lot of their information and that it be readily available no matter where they go. The U.S. has a lot more businesses than the UK, and many of them are a lot larger than most in the UK. The US also has a lot more businesses which are international in scope, and therefore, more need to store some of their data. Within the UK, most businesses are not that far from their central offices, because the UK, while a significant size, is a lot smaller than the US, and if data is needed, corporate offices aren't too hard to get back to. Whereas, in the U.S., a businessperson who needs to have data available in the east coast, with corporate offices in the west coast, would have a hard time getting to corporate information if he or she forgot to bring that data with him/her; no need to worry about getting that data if it's made available in the cloud.

    Having said all of that, I still don't trust the cloud for storage of any kind of sensitive information, and I don't trust it to have the information available when things go wrong, like unavailable ISP service, or interruptions in power/electricity, or major storms (Sandy, anyone?).
  • the lieing cloud

    i have been hacked on apple icloud did not put any thing in their cloud or ea games and they all have told me we can not take it out now may be in furtner they said so as of now you put any thing in the cloud you can not take it out for good they have to dooms day and you can not do any thing about it this is wrong and we know it it is just computers and they can not remove your info at all
  • by amerkins fur amerkins

    and the right kinda amerkins son...

    the lieing cloud is an interesting scream of consciousness, heartfelt and accurate. Reminds me of the MMR triple antigen shot, herd inoculation is what they are after - too bad about the insignificant fraction of innocents who are rendered autistic... its a numbahs game son. The entire internet is just a massive IP hoover for america inc. And yo will obey son, yo shure will.
  • SteveT Cloud Copout

    The article hit the nail on the head with "control" I have recently retired from a VERY successful and "profitable" English Building Society. The primary objective of this Company has been for all this time, and still is, the benefit of its members. Not shareholders. I worked in this organisations IT Dept for over 20 years. The mundane processes were automated years ago, way before "The Cloud" made its vague and dubious appearance. We used a large resource on resilient Firewall and data protection, under our control. Regular PEN tests etc etc. What I'm saying is that how can a financial organisation, or any business holding confidential data BELONGING to their customers/clients be sure that this information is safe, secure and will not be abused when stored within a cloud environment ??
    • US govenment

      If any portion of the data is held in the USA none of your data is secure as government agencies have unrestrained access!
      Tim Messanger