Fasthosts’ ‘Cloud Attitudes’ study, conducted by IDC, has found that 60 per cent of UK businesses still do not leverage any type of cloud-computing service and so miss out on benefits such as increased performance, scalability, and cost savings. Taking the example of storage, whilst a pleasing 82 per cent of firms recognise the need for data back-up off-site, only 16 per cent are using a flexible cloud-based storage option for this. Over two thirds (69 per cent) have no plans to explore cloud-computing in this way.

A key finding of the research is that a total of 1 in 5 companies suspect they will side-step cloud-computing all-together. The study suggests that performance, scalability and cost benefits are not widely known by UK business users. A key reason for reluctance to embrace new cloud computing technologies is a lack of staff expertise, with 1 in 4 firms admitting this is a primary concern for them.

The data suggests that UK firms will miss out on potential benefits unless they receive more guidance from the industry on the business case for cloud computing. Interestingly, this is in clear contrast to business attitudes to web hosting, where 57 per cent of firms appreciate the benefits of having this hosted externally by a third party.

A critical issue for all types of business is data security. A further study of 1000 UK office workers from Fasthosts found that 37 per cent are taking risks with work data. Currently there are cloud-based services that can help firms enhance data security and reliability with storage. Cloud hosting also allows firms to greatly enhance mobility by allowing workers to safely transfer, store or back-up their documents whilst working outside of the office. These storage solutions transfer data as encrypted and store it in a secure data centre location protected against physical and electronic threats.

Fasthosts’ research also shows that too many UK firms are losing data as a result of IT problems. 1 in 10 workers has lost data recently as a result of a server or disk-drive failing. However, currently only 5 per cent of office workers using an online storage or back-up service provided by their work, and 2 per cent are using such a service they themselves have sourced.

Businesses that use on premise or dedicated servers would be wise to consider utilising a virtual server platform that can dynamically adjust to ensure maximum performance levels for them. For example, virtual servers using Microsoft Dynamic Data Center utilise dynamic performance load balancing which ensures that individual customer cloud servers can move around the platform seamlessly to take advantage of the best possible available hardware resource for maximum performance.

Fasthosts’ own data shows that more than 1 in 10 users of virtual servers re-configure their server resources within the first 6 months – a flexibility that is not possible with a dedicated or on-premise server. If businesses can see the impact of scalable virtualized solutions on their bottom line, the business case for cloud-based IT will become transparent.