How the cloud is being used by companies now (and what’s next)

More than 90% 0f organizations are using at least one cloud app. But to what extent they’re on board and how they’re using it may surprise you. Find out what your colleagues are facing and where they’re going with the cloud next. 

Spiceworks’ recent 2016 cloud services report found that 93% of organizations have at least one cloud app. And for most companies, hosting was a natural fit for the cloud. The top two cloud-based services used were web hosting (76%) and email hosting (56%) with an additional 5% and 13% respectively expected to use it in the coming year.

Other popular uses of cloud services included:

  • cloud storage and file sharing (53%)
  • Software as a Service, or web apps (45%)
  • productivity office suites (39%), and
  • online backups/recovery (35%).

Backups were also the hottest segment for growth. Nearly a quarter (23%) of companies said they were going to move into cloud backups in the coming year, more than any other area.

Opportunity and obstacles

Obviously companies see the cloud as having a lot of promise based on its widespread adoption. However, there were some areas that troubled the IT pros Spiceworks surveyed.

While IT pros cited the ability to withstand local disasters (68%), not needing special hardware to manage services (68%), a high availability of options (62%) and scalability (54%) as benefits of cloud services, many were held back from adopting services by:

  • speed and latency issues (60%)
  • bandwidth requirements (58%)
  • lack of control over infrastructure (52%)
  • risk of security breaches (52%)
  • outages or service degradation (51%)
  • internal resistance of bureaucracy (48%), and
  • risk of data loss (36%).

Of these issues, the only human-related rather than tech-related is internal resistance. And that can be conquered with hard work and demonstrations of value. But for those concerned about speed, control, outages and data loss, it may be worth considering whether handling these issues in-house is really more effective than outsourcing them.

And it may not be up to you soon whether to use a cloud service or in-house service as that’s the way the market is moving. According to the report, an average of 20% of IT services today are cloud-based. But in two to three years, that’s expected to grow to 34%.

Given the market trajectory, it’s possible in-house, offline services may be a thing of the past for many services soon.

Looking ahead

Whether you’re moving to the cloud in a big way or just picking up services here and there, there’s a lot to consider in order to make the decision wisely. Most providers are fairly reliable, but there are some snake-oil salesmen out there, too.

According to the surveyed IT pros, the biggest factors to consider when evaluating cloud-based IT services were:

  1. cost (71%)
  2. reliability/service level guarantees (58%)
  3. data security controls (41%)
  4. customer support (32%)
  5. vendor reputation (29%)
  6. user friendliness (18%)
  7. ease of setup (15%), and
  8. scalability (15%).

Your mileage may vary. But just remember that making decisions on cost alone may not be the wisest long-term practice. While you’re likely going to face some pressure to go with the lowest bidder, this decision can be too important to trust to a vendor who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.