Irish companies confused about cloud computing

6 Sep 2011

More than half (54pc) of Irish businesses are confused about the term cloud computing, according to a new O2 survey, conducted in July by independent research company iReach.

Cloud computing allows users to access software, infrastructure and storage services over the internet, irrespective of their physical location. A key benefit of cloud computing to business is that technology ceases to be a capital expense and instead becomes an operating cost, allowing companies to pay only for what they use, reducing overall costs.

“Lack of awareness appears to be holding back many Irish firms from generating the productivity benefits of the cloud,” said Alan Brown, business director, Telefonica Ireland, which operates the O2 brand.

Apart from lack of awareness, the O2 cloud computing survey finds that the main barriers to adoption are ‘security of data’, cited by more than two-thirds (68pc) of all respondents, followed by ‘integration with existing systems’, mentioned by 39pc in their top 2 fears.

“In reality, security surrounding most cloud-based services is much more rigorous and offers greater protection than what the average company can afford. In addition, cloud services sit very well with existing IT systems because you are not adding any new hardware or software. All you need is a web browser connection,” added Brown.

The survey finds that, of those firms which use cloud services, the main benefits are seen as business continuity followed by ease of use and not having to invest in hardware or software. Overall, reduced costs and avoiding the purchase of hardware and software is cited by 62pc of cloud computing users as among the top benefits.

28pc of Irish firms use some form of cloud computing

Around 28pc of companies surveyed currently use some form of cloud computing. Of those who have not adopted cloud services, just 14pc say they plan to, while more than half (54pc) aren’t sure.

The survey findings were revealed as O2 also announced details of an O2 cloud computing webinar designed to help SME businesses better understand the business benefits of cloud computing. The webinar, which is in partnership with the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, can be viewed any time online.

“Because of ease of use, implementation and lower costs, cloud computing is particularly beneficial to smaller and medium-sized businesses,” said Brown. “Our webinar will help the vast majority of firms who are confused about or don’t currently use the cloud and explain in simple terms how they can benefit.”

In June of this year, O2 announced that Office 365, Microsoft’s new cloud productivity solution, is now available to O2 business customers, as part of a new strategic partnership between the two companies in Ireland.

Business customers can avail of a packaged offering where O2’s core mobile and fixed services will be offered with Microsoft Office 365. The new solution is available on a subscription basis from O2, removing upfront costs of purchasing software.

Photo: Alan Brown, business director, Telefonica Ireland

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years