In its purest form, cloud computing is just a simple phrase for describing the purchase of technology resources on-demand. But what should be simple is in fact very complicated.

Research from online marketplace PeoplePerHour suggests almost three quarters (74%) of SMEs do not currently use cloud computing models. Hardly surprising when as many as 43% of small firms are reported to be unsure of how to define cloud computing in the first place.

The blame for that lack of understanding must surely lie, in part, with providers. Over the last few years remarkable hype around the concept of cloud computing has built, accompanied by the introduction of a whole new language that refers to private and public clouds, hybrid models as well as various resources that can be purchased as a service.

What has emerged is confusion. Rather than a simple concept, the cloud has become a metaphor for all that is wrong about the way the IT industry sells itself to the customer. It is no wonder therefore, that SMEs are confused. If we are honest, the IT industry is too.

Despite the hype and confusion surrounding the cloud, on-demand technology will eventually alter the way that IT resources are purchased. However, this transformation will not be quick, particularly amongst enterprise level organisations where it could take the best part of a decade.

For SMEs, the crucial point is that smaller, nimble organisations have the perfect opportunity to test the water now and move ahead of some of their larger rivals gaining a competitive position in terms of cost and operational efficiency.

For larger organisations, moving complex processes into the cloud could be painful with larger organisations being unlikely to move working production environments online, particularly if customer data is involved until adoption is greater and the technology appears to have been proved.

Smaller organisations are not so encumbered by legacy and generally more risk-averse. A small business start-up today would not choose to run their IT on the type of mainframe systems that hold back larger firms, but would look to the cloud to purchase software and hardware on-demand.

SMEs must take a similar stand now, allying themselves with providers that understand the need for agility and flexibility. Pay attention to services – such as remote monitoring and data transparency – that will help your business to upscale quickly and stay available.

With experts suggesting that the use of cloud computing by SMEs will expand the most rapidly, now is the time to search out partners that will help your organisation to move ‘on-demand’. The cloud is the future of IT provision so there really is no time like the present to start investigating the benefits of buying on-demand.