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SMBs adopting cloud quicker than many enterprises

Small companies may feel they have less to lose when putting business assets in the cloud than risk-averse enterprises.

SMBs are jumping in with both feet when it comes to leading the way to cloud. In fact, small and medium-sized businesses are out in front of enterprises, according to a survey of nearly 1,300 staffers at companies with 1,000 or fewer employees.

"It has to save my company money, time and resources ... My CFO won't give me money if I say something is really cool."

Justin Davison, senior systems engineer, RJ Lee Group

The survey, which was conducted in the early fall by Spiceworks, a social business network for IT that claims to have 1.7 million users, found that some 46% were using cloud services by the second half of this year. That's up from 28% in the first half of 2011, which was also an increase from 14% in the second half of 2010.

TechTarget's State of the Data Center: 2011 survey, fielded earlier this year, found that enterprises are showing more reticence when it comes to cloud adoption. Sixty-four percent of IT staffers said they have no current cloud computing plans, though 35% have deployed cloud solutions or have plans to, according to the survey.

The RJ Lee Group, a 250-employee materials analysis laboratory headquartered in Monroeville, Pa., is running a large-scale data-sharing application in the cloud on Amazon EC2, though the final platform hasn't been chosen yet.

"We have a ton of data," Justin Davison, senior systems engineer at RJ Lee Group, said. The company chose to go with the cloud because it made financial sense.

A managed services provider supplies the firm’s Web hosting and its email is hosted on-premises because, according to Davison, it's less expensive than hosting those services in the cloud.

That doesn't mean that the company won't use the cloud for other functions, Davison said. For the future, RJ Lee is looking at Microsoft's Office 365 office productivity tools, possible cloud backup and connectivity via the cloud to mobile devices, such as tablet computers.

There's just one overriding concern, Davison said.

"It has to save my company money, time and resources ... My CFO won't give me money if I say something is really cool," he added.

"[SMBs] have less to lose and more to gain because the benefits are more obvious and easier to acquire," said Charles King, principal analyst at IT advisory firm Pund-IT.

"For enterprises, there's an institutional reluctance to engage with outside services, especially when it comes to private information and custom applications," King added. SMBs, by contrast, tend to go with packaged software and are looking to cut costs for infrastructure.

In terms of uses, 48% of the respondents to Spiceworks' survey are using cloud services for Web hosting while 30% are hosting email; applications hosting and backup and recovery are neck-and-neck for third place at around 24% each.

Stuart Johnston is Senior News Writer for Contact him at

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