With the proportion of worldwide cloud-related spend set to rise up to 3.8tn this year you’ll struggle to meet a CTO who hasn’t migrated some of their IT requirements to the cloud or at the very least seriously considered it. There are great reasons for migrating to cloud technology, yet the University of Greenwich recently found reluctance amongst SMEs to make the move.

Researchers reported that only one in four firms have adopted cloud technology for business systems with even fewer (19%) making use of the cloud for financial accounting and less than a third (31%) using it for customer relationship management.

The question is why? Unsurprisingly, the main reason behind these numbers was due to fears over data security, with some 66% citing it as their main concern. Yet if approached in the right way SMEs can address such concerns, gain the business benefits that so many others are experiencing, and make both time and cost savings.

My company’s own recent research across almost 200 IT buyers shows that that the most common drivers behind cloud adoption are:

  • Flexibility and scalability (73%).
  • Cost savings (60%).
  • Cost reduction (39%).

Conversely the most common barriers to buying cloud services are:

  • Concerns around security (54%).
  • Concerns about losing of control of their systems, data and infrastructure (54%).
  • Concerns that they have already invested too much in their current storage network (42%).

Peace of mind around cloud technology can only be achieved through a thorough assessment of the providers available to you. Consider not just cost and time saving but a partner who can help you migrate at your own speed – you don’t have to migrate everything and in fact, there may be good reasons to select a ‘hybrid colocation’ solution, mixing your existing physical infrastructure with the flexibility of a virtual one.

It’s for this reason, geographic proximity of a cloud provider to your existing business is critical – 58% of IT buyers say the location of their cloud provider matters.

A local cloud provider not only means you’ll be able to get to it easily (for major upgrades or changes), but its geographic proximity has the added bonus of providing optimal connectivity speeds (low latency equals better performance) as well as the reassurance that you will meet any legal requirements to keep data within country borders.

Communication and support is also crucial – 75% of users want to solve issues via phone support and 67% want to solve them via support tickets. Make sure you select a supplier who can meet your tech support requirements, day or night, 365 days a year.

One final, but vital point – data – where you keep it and store it is critical. As more and more criminal and terrorist events around the world occur, governments will get tougher on meeting regulatory measures such as the Patriot Act. Even privacy-conscious France is considering new surveillance laws .

Be clear about where your services are being used and where your data resides, and don’t be seduced by cost savings from foreign cloud providers, as it could land you in hot water with national regulators. Selecting a good quality local cloud provider that offers support and access to your virtual servers and data will reap dividends in the long run (as well as provide peace of mind).

Top Tips For Cloud Adoption

  • Find out what management tools or applications are available to control data, apps and processes. How well does it integrate with existing management systems?
  • Ensure that the cloud platform and data centre(s) it’s managed from meet your security requirements.
  • Make sure you know how SLAs are defined. What type of compensation is offered if levels aren’t met?
  • Pin down how cloud usage is calculated. What SLA-defined support is included?
  • Assess how trustworthy, agile and accommodating your provider is.
  • Don’t get tied into lengthy contracts. Make sure you can port your data and apps if you find a better offer or the current provider goes bust or changes ownership.