This sponsored post is produced by Rackspace Managed Cloud.

It wasn’t long ago that “cloud” referred to the public cloud. Today, it’s synonymous with multiple forms of cloud computing, from private clouds to hybrid models of interconnected data centers, to a single, managed hosting environment. Whatever your business requirements, there’s likely a cloud solution to meet your specific needs.

Because nearly 90 percent of SMBs are currently making use of the cloud, it’s almost unnecessary to talk about the benefits of cloud adoption in simple terms. Advantages like total cost savings, flexibility, and decreased time to market are so universally acknowledged that they have become baseline expectations.

Through our ongoing research efforts, we’ve uncovered some interesting and overlooked trends particular to cloud adoption within small and medium businesses. Here are four surprising trends that highlight how and why SMBs are using the cloud:

1. Moving to the cloud aids better customer service

Most companies have long known that customer service matters, but a slew of recent reports are beginning to quantify just how much. A 2014 study by the Harvard Business Review found that satisfied customers spend on average 140 percent more than customers who experience poor customer service.

The data show — somewhat unexpectedly — that cloud adoption has been a major factor in positive customer support experiences. As you see in the infographic below, up to 70 percent of businesses report that they’re able to put money saved back into their business as a result of moving to the cloud — 36 percent of those companies reinvested these savings into improving their customer service.

Making the decision to deploy in the cloud has also led to incremental improvements in application stability, uptime, decreased page-load times, and faster average responses to customer issues, all of which have boosted customer satisfaction.

2. The Cloud is often more secure than traditional data centers

Even with cloud adoption skyrocketing, it’s clear that security concerns are still the number one barrier to adoption. And with high-profile breaches like iCloud and Dropbox, it’s easy to understand why.

But a number of recent reports are starting to frame cloud security differently. In their 2014 Cloud Security Report, analysts at Alert Logic assert that, “we don’t believe the cloud today is inherently less safe than enterprise data center environments.” In fact, while vulnerability scans were up across both on-premise and cloud providers this year, the report shows that brute force attacks were 30 percent more common in on-premise data centers. Alert Logic suggests that a transparent, collaborative relationship between customers and hosting providers will go a long way toward keeping cloud environments secure.

3. Smaller businesses are adopting the cloud faster than mid-sized businesses

Among businesses with fewer than 20 employees, 68 percent report having adopted the cloud in some way, with six percent saying they plan to so within six months. Contrast that with the adoption rate of businesses with 500 to 1000 employees — only 53 percent report cloud adoption. It’s clear that the smallest companies are leading the charge.

This trend can best be attributed to two factors: the IT skills at smaller businesses are likely to be spread thin, and, the cost for utilizing cloud-based solutions for major business functions is relatively low. Eighty percent of small businesses say they use cloud-based email, while the vast majority of mid-sized companies choose to host email on premises — probably because they have the in-house IT skills and bandwidth to manage it.

4. Content Filtering: The hidden driver of cloud adoption

It’s no surprise that companies report web hosting, email, and backup to be the top workloads they’re running on the cloud. But nearly half of small and mid-sized businesses are also using the cloud to keep unwanted content — malware, cyber attacks, malicious websites and emails — out of their networks.

Cyber-threats are a looming presence that can disrupt business operations and compromise sensitive data, and security-as-a-service providers have stepped up to counter them. Workforces that are increasingly distributed throughout the world as well as the rise in adoption of the BYOD model present many more potential points of entry for would-be attackers. But the cloud is able to scale security solutions to keep unwanted content at bay. For example, cloud-based secure web gateways start using malware signatures and blocked URL lists as soon as they become available — replicating the protection quickly around the network. Traditional IT environments are often much slower to bring in new defenses.

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Learn more about Rackspace Managed Cloud.

Tom Bressie is the Director of Product Marketing at Rackspace, focused on Managed Cloud. Prior to joining Rackspace, he served as the Global Leader of Cloud Product Marketing for a Fortune 50 technology company and has a broad professional background in both technology and business, ranging from product marketing to product management to analog circuit design.


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