Not too long ago, the phrase "cloud security" was regarded as a bit of an oxymoron. From the inherent skepticism regarding new technology to the fundamental mistrust of shared environments, cloud providers certainly had their work cut out for them early on. But according to the latest analysis from Microsoft, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are starting to realize that the enhanced security they can gain through cloud migrations can unlock several enticing opportunities.
A worry-free security boost
When someone suggests that he or she can do your job better than you can, it's natural for most to steer clear of a business partnership with that person. Consequently, corporate IT teams didn't take too kindly to early assertions that the data protection capabilities of cloud providers would outshine the skills of in-house administrators. But now that more companies have swallowed their pride and investigated the utility of cloud strategies, many are realizing that there is little to fear.
In a recent survey of SMBs conducted by Microsoft, 35 percent of responding U.S. companies acknowledged that they have experienced "noticeably higher levels of security" since moving to the cloud. Approximately the same margin also noted that they have spent less time worrying about data security issues since the switch.
These reports weren't just cloud migration rationalizations either. Microsoft researchers found that companies operating in the cloud spent 32 percent less time managing security issues each week than organizations solely using on-premise solutions. As a result, cloud adopters were five times more likely to have reduced security spending in proportion to their overall IT budgets.
"There's a perception that security is a barrier to cloud adoption. Yet when companies embrace and invest in cloud services, they find the benefits far outweigh previous concerns," Microsoft Trustworthy computing general manager Adrienne Hall explained. "Time and money spent managing security prior to using cloud services is being reinvested by SMBs to grow their businesses and be more competitive."
Cloud security as competitive differentiator
With these extra resources in hand, companies are quickly changing their tune and coming to see cloud security as an enabler rather than hindrance. Approximately four in 10 U.S. SMBs responding to the Microsoft study indicated that they have been able to increase staffing in business development roles and invest more heavily in innovation. As a result, more than half of respondents have been able to bring new products and services to market faster, and more securely since moving to the cloud.
"Any solution that helps SMBs' bottom lines has to be good for them and the economy," said Microsoft executive Ryan Brock. "When it comes to security, the cloud offers SMBs a level of expertise, specialist resources and investment that they cannot hope to match. This translates into cost and time savings and better protection against cyberthreats – which gives them the freedom to innovate and grow their business."
This news could be of particular interest following reports of surging budgets within SMB IT departments. According to the latest market analysis from Spiceworks, budgets have risen by approximately 15 percent over the past 12 months, leaving the average SMB IT team with more than $150,000 to work with per year.
Considering the research from Microsoft, it could be said this spike is at least partially attributable to cloud-adopting SMBs reinvesting their accrued savings. But for firms still on the sidelines of the cloud marketplace, the replenished budgets could be a mandate to explore the technology for the first time this year.
With cloud security concerns consistently fading and virtual platforms facilitating everything from big data analysis to mobile device management, cloud service investments could be money well spent.
Cloud Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro