While there may be an array of cloud technologies available to businesses, not all companies are embracing those services, new research shows.
Just 33 percent of companies are moving "full steam ahead" with their cloud services plans, according to a study from the Cloud Security Alliance. More than 40 percent of businesses are adopting cloud technology, but with caution; 15 percent are still in the early stages of investigating what's out there; and 11 percent aren't placing much of a priority on them, the survey found.
There are a variety of factors holding companies back from adopting cloud technology at a faster rate. Security of data is the top concern, with 73 percent of businesses saying it's their biggest cloud challenge. Other major obstacles include a lack of knowledge and experience on the part of IT and business managers, the loss of control over IT services, and concerns about regulatory compliance, compromised accounts, insider threats, business continuity and disaster recovery.
"As companies move data to the cloud, they are looking to put in place policies and processes so that employees can take advantage of cloud services that drive business growth without compromising the security, compliance and governance of corporate data," Jim Reavis, CEO of the Cloud Security Alliance, said in a statement.
Another issue many organizations are facing is how to deal with "shadow IT," which is the spending and implementation of technology that occurs outside the IT department, including cloud apps adopted by individual employees, teams and business units. Nearly 72 percent of those surveyed admitted that they did not know the number of shadow IT apps within their organization.
Specific concerns about shadow IT cloud apps include how to ensure corporate data remains secure, the potential compliance violations they may cause and the ability to enforce company policies on them. [8 Reasons to Fear Cloud Computing ]
The research revealed that, regardless of how quickly businesses adopt cloud services, employees are eager to take advantage of what's being offered. IT departments in nearly 80 percent of the companies surveyed receive up to 20 requests from employees to buy more cloud services each month. Here are the most popular cloud categories employees ask for:
- File sharing and collaboration
- Social media
- Content sharing
- Enterprise content management
- Sales productivity
- Business intelligence
Overall, smaller businesses are devoting more of their financial resources to cloud services. Nearly 50 percent of businesses with fewer than 5,000 employees are allocating at least 20 percent of their IT budgets to cloud services. In comparison, just 36 percent of large organizations are investing as heavily in that area.
When it comes to policies and procedures for managing cloud adoption, however, large enterprises seem to be taking the lead. Companies with more than 5,000 employees are more likely than smaller businesses to have a cloud governance committee, a policy on acceptable cloud usage and a security awareness training program.
"The cloud has clear benefits, but those benefits must be weighed against potential risks," researchers wrote in the study. "As data moves to the cloud, companies will need to enforce the same security, compliance and governance policies that they do for data stored on premises."
The study was based on surveys of more than 200 IT and security professionals from a variety of company sizes and industries from the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific regions.