Cloud Computing Seen as Enabler to Businesses, New Survey Finds Credit: Dreamstime

The idea of cloud computing — storing data on the Internet and running software from the Internet rather than having all that stuff on local hard drives — has been gaining steam in recent years. The infrastructure is being built (Google offers Google Docs, for example) and many tech-savvy companies large and small have made the switch, in part or wholly.

A new survey by the Yankee Group of more than 400 U.S. IT decision-makers suggests a tipping point has occurred.

Nearly 60 percent of enterprises consider cloud computing a business enabler, while less than 40 percent say the technology will take years to mature, if it ever does.

That’s a big change from last year, when just 37 percent saw it as an enabler and 63 percent had doubts.

Cloud computing is expected to lower costs to small businesses by reducing needs for software and hardware upgrades. The Air Force earlier this year awarded IBM a contract to design and demonstrate asecure cloud computing infrastructure to support their defense and intelligence networks.  It's also poised to transform online gaming, experts say.

The cloud may take many forms, however.

According to the new survey, 67 percent prefer private/internal clouds to public cloud infrastructures, for security and privacy reasons.

While respondents said they want to make their IT cloud infrastructure like Amazon’s or Google’s, only 17 percent say they view either vendor as a trusted cloud partner. About 29 percent plan to work with systems integrators like Accenture, IBM and HP’s EDS, while 23 percent look to infrastructure vendors like Cisco and VMware.

“Cloud computing is on the cusp of broad enterprise adoption,” said Sheryl Kingstone, research director at Yankee Group and co-author of the report. “Because our survey breaks down the state of adoption and plans for platform-, infrastructure and software-as-a-service, it delivers great insights into the marketplace."