Nearly 44 percent of Australian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) — about 900,000 businesses — had actively used cloud computing services during the six months to May 2013, according to research by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
The Cloud Computing in Australia report (PDF) also showed cloud usage was more prevalent for medium-sized businesses with 51 percent using cloud computing services, compared to 44 percent of small businesses.
The report indicated the most popular cloud computing services that SMEs were using were web-based email services, such as Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo!7 Mail. This was followed by sharing files online, accessing online software such as Webapps and Office 365, and backing up files to the cloud.
But the usage of specific cloud computing services varied by business sizes. For example medium-sized businesses were more likely to use paid services, with 31 percent indicating they paid to store data/files online, compared to 25 percent of small businesses. Conversely, small businesses were more likely to use free services, such as web-based emails (58 percent), compared to medium-sized businesses (34 percent).
A number of positives and negatives points were also identified by SMEs from using cloud computing services. ACMA said the main positives cited by SMEs was that cloud computing services were easier and more convenient to use (36 percent), followed by the ability to use across multiple platforms (15 percent), and data and files are safe if anything happens to the computer network (11 percent).
Meanwhile, the main reason why nearly half of SMEs (48 percent) are not using cloud computing services was because many believe there is no need for it, or it is not suitable to the nature of their business. A further 22 percent reported they do not know enough about cloud computing.
ACMA concluded there are number of current and impending developments that are "likely to facilitate further growth" in the Australian cloud computing market.
"There are a number of infrastructure projects underway in Australia that will have significant implications for the future development of the digital environment, in particular the cloud computing services market," ACMA reported. "These include the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and 4G mobile networks."
The study went on to state that consumers demanding access to content on any device in any location will drive the take-up of cloud computing services. ACMA research shows that at May 2013, 62 percent of Australian internet users were accessing the internet using three or more devices, while 21 percent used five or more devices to access the internet.