The cloud’s full potential could be further away than previously hope for according to Gartner in a report issued last week – and maybe companies should approach with caution.

2020 is the date specified by Gartner as the point when 75 per cent of organisations will be using the cloud. Obviously there will be early entrants, but the bulk of support will not start adopting cloud email until 2014 at the earliest.

Enthusiasm for the economically friendly storage space on cloud email (at least 25GB compared to 300 to 400MB pre-cloud) is countered by the warning of hidden costs. For example, syncing voicemail to email may not be straightforward when switched to a cloud-based system.

Basically, the cloud is not just about email. Matt Cain, lead email analyst at Gartner, believes companies need to take a five-year outlook. The provider a company chooses for email will most likely end up supplying other services. Companies should also know the cost of current services, be aware of security considerations and ensure they get a maximum return on their current email infrastructure investment before making any major decisions.

The report found that even some of the big names, such as Google and Microsoft have to be better prepared for the cloud. The reality of cloud computing is getting closer but the hype must not cloud everyone’s vision – maybe a slower route is a safer one.