Are UK Firms Slow to Adopt Cloud Computing?

Does the UK lag behind in usage and adoption of cloud computing? Are UK businesses more sceptical of cloud computing than other nations?

A recent survey released byRedwood Softwarewould suggest just that. Thesurveyinto the use of cloud computing by large US and UK firms (1,000 employees and above), conducted by Vanson Bourne, looked at usage levels of cloud computing and general opinion of cloud computing, e.g. data storage and automation of business processes. In general, the study found that significantly more US businesses are using cloud computing, for example, 58% of US businesses who took part in the survey use the cloud for private data storage compared to 35% in the UK. As well as data storage, 47% of US businesses use cloud computing for capacity management of IT resources compared to just 24% of UK businesses.

Not only is there a significant difference in current usage of cloud computing between the two countries, there is also a disparity in opinion of its benefits. Of the 200 US companies who made up the survey 71% believed cloud computing would “improve agility in supporting business needs”, compared to just 47% of the 100 UK businesses. When asked if they thought that the cloud gave them a “faster return on investment” 57% of US businesses said yes compared to just 36% of UK businesses, while 45% of US businesses believed that cloud computing “reduced labour costs”, compared to 29% of UK businesses.

A difference in current usage is one thing, but the divide in opinion is more indicative of where cloud computing is heading in 2013. There is no doubt that the cloud is becoming more and more popular with a broader range of consumers, but it would appear that the cloud is set to grow by a larger extent in the US than it will over here in the UK.

The question of course is: Why is cloud computing still seen as a bit of a fad by so many UK businesses? There is some evidence to suggest that it’s implementation in Europe as a whole (and not just the UK) is not as effective as it could be, something that the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has targeted as a reason for relatively poor uptake of cloud computing. More specifically, the EESC believe that there should be more emphasis on how to move IT to the cloud rather than just promote its use. This is a valid point, as for many businesses, the thought of trusting other companies with their data or services is more than enough reason not to adopt cloud computing.

The EESC also feels that more emphasis should be put on the benefits of the cloud to SMBs, for example how it can allow them to use or offer services that previously were unavailable to them. In the same article, the EESC also expressed concern that the current cloud computing market will allow an “oligopoly” of non-European suppliers to form. The world’s biggest providers of cloud computing, e.g. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Rackspace and Citrix, are already based in the US, and their market share is ever increasing.

As things stand, there is no provider based in the EU that can hope to challenge the big US providers but the only way that will change is if more European businesses decide to adopt cloud computing.

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