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SMBs Don't Understand Cloud Computing

Almost three quarters of decision makers in small and midsize companies know the same or less about cloud computing than they did a year ago.

Almost three quarters of decision makers in small and midsize companies know the same or less about cloud computing than they did a year ago.More than half of SMB decision makers, 52%, place a high priority on sharing IT resources and 42% say the same of on-demand resources. From those data points, culled from a Verio-sponsored survey of 515 SMB decision makers, it's not too great a leap to infer SMBs harbor an appetite for cloud computing. Yet not too many SMBs appear to be actively seeking answer to questions about if now is the time to move to the cloud.

According to the same survey, 64% know exactly as much about the cloud computing as they did a year ago and 8% actually regressed in their cloud knowledge - that's 72% that don't really know much about the cloud. Even if you factor in the 22% who claimed to have learned "a little more" or the 6% who know "a great deal more" about cloud computing, this still ranks as statistical stasis. With the economy still foundering and the low-cost appeal that's woven into every discussion about the cloud, you'd think more SMBs would be eagerly reviewing cloud options.

That is until you consider where technology ranked on the cost cutting priority. It's fourth on a list of 6 options ranking ahead of only "some other expense" and "don't know" with 30% indicating it was a priority. What ranks higher? Healthcare insurance (58%). Salaries (42%). Rent (32%). When business owners are grappling with keeping the doors open, not cancelling heath insurance and cutting jobs, shifting servers and applications to the cloud slides to the back burner - at least for business owners who aren't inclined to embrace technology issues. Though tools like the Go Google cloud calculator offer an easy way to drop eye-catching stats in front of a decision maker.

Mitch Merrifield, Senior Director of Managed Computing Solutions for Verio, commenting on the survey findings hit the nail on the head when he said, "One of the main factors leading to confusion surrounding cloud is that the technology is emerging and still being defined,"

The inchoate nature of cloud computing is an obstacle for business owners, particularly in smaller companies that tend to have a shallow IT resources. The channel is the obvious conduit for SMB cloud adoption and more launches such as Arrow Fusion and SingTel will provide businesses with the choices and options they need to begin the long awaited stampede to the cloud and perhaps deliver on Merrifield's prediction that "At its core, a Cloud solution can help SMBs share on-demand resources in a highly scalable, pay-as-you go environment to minimize technology costs. With the SMB market on the cusp of understanding its value, we predict that 2011 will mark a significant shift in the viability of Cloud offerings with small businesses."

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