Microsoft-Sponsored Survey Hints SMBs Less Fearful of Cloud Security

Microsoft hopes businesses will gravitate to its cloud offerings, such as Office 365, in place of Google's.

Around a third of small- to midsize businesses claim that moving operations to the cloud has resulted in better security and more efficient workflow, according to a new study sponsored by Microsoft.

The study, conducted by research firm comScore in March and April of this year, involved an unmentioned number of companies “with between 100 and 250 PCs” in five geographies as diverse as the U.S., India, and Hong Kong.

Some 35 percent of the surveyed U.S. companies said their cloud experience came with noticeably higher levels of security; nearly the same number—32 percent—claimed they spent less time managing security-related issues.

Around 41 percent of those using the cloud said it allowed them to deploy more staff toward sales or business functions, while another 39 percent invested more in product development and innovation, and 37 percent claimed a greater degree of competitive agility.

Presumably, these savings in time and effort are the direct result of the cloud streamlining processes such as security upgrades. Microsoft, Salesforce and other IT vendors have spent years pushing such streamlining as better not only for SMBs, but also large enterprises—while beating back, at moments, the perception of the cloud as fundamentally less safe and sturdy than on-premises solutions.

“There’s a perception that security is a barrier to cloud adoption,” Adrienne Hall, general manager of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, wrote in a May 14 statement. “Yet when companies embrace and invest in cloud services, they find the benefits outweigh previous concerns.”

Microsoft, of course, has a significant interest in businesses adopting its cloud services. For years, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has proclaimed his company “all in” when it comes to the cloud, a statement reinforced by the release of products such as Office 365 (cloud-based productivity software) and Windows Intune, a set of cloud-based management tools for businesses.

In the process, Microsoft managed to lock itself into fierce competition with other cloud-based vendors such as Google. But Microsoft has little choice in the matter: if the cloud is truly the way of the future, then the importance of on-premises software—which built Redmond’s fortune in the first place—will steadily decline, placing Microsoft’s revenues and market-share at potential risk.