SMBs optimistic on cloud security in Microsoft research study

Larger companies may be right to worry about the security and reliability of cloud services, but when a small business doesn't have a viable on-premises option, should that really be their first concern?

I have seen countless studies offering myriad and legitimate reasons for businesses to tread softly when considering cloud applications or services. But some new research backed by Microsoft has me asking this question: If a small business doesn't have a viable, cost-effective on-premises option for something, why do some fear-mongering camps persist in dissuading them from using the cloud?

Consider that 94 percent of the small and midsize businesses surveyed by Microsoft — ones that are using the cloud — actually said they gained security benefits because their anti-virus, anti-spam and operating system patches were being kept up-to-date more easily and consistently. A slightly smaller number (91 percent) said the cloud actually made it easier for them to deal with compliance obligations than in the past.

In addition, 62 percent of them reported improved privacy protection, because they were more apt to control the settings,  while 75 percent reported improved service reliability compared with their previous option.

The biggest benefit reported by these users was time saved managing IT infrastructure, which in turn enabled their companies to spend more time growing their business or investing in innovation. 

That finding is particularly interesting to me, because I'm also sorting through a separate report this week about the rise of the "involuntary IT manager" among small businesses. Apparently, almost one-third of small businesses worldwide have their technology managed by someone who does this as sort of a secondary job (that's about 3.8 million businesses), according to the data from AMI-Partners. I'll be covering that data in more detail in a separate post, soon.

Back to the cloud study. Mind you, this isn't a huge survey base. Microsoft's blind research covered approximately 106 cloud users from companies with fewer than 500 employees. These were not specifically Microsoft customers; the participants were not asked about which cloud vendors or service providers they used.

For perspective and contrast, Microsoft's survey also covered 105 non-cloud users. They had far different perceptions of the cloud. For example, approximately 60 percent of them were concerned about security, and 42 percent said the main reason they hadn't opted for a cloud offering was because of reliability.

Those are many of the same perceptions and opinions we've heard before. Certainly, they are very legitimate concerns, but are they really well-founded at this point? Especially if the alternative is usually to do very little or to do nothing at all.

The infographic below offers more of the survey findings: