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Report: Majority of businesses have cloud as strategic priority

The cloud is changing the way businesses around the world operate, giving companies the ability to enhance efficiency, reduce IT expenses and boost mobility. According to a new study by Cisco, organizations in the U.K. and Ireland are no exception.

Cisco CloudWatch 2012 revealed that 90 percent of decision-makers now have cloud computing on their agenda, compared to just 52 percent in a similar study conducted in 2011. Approximately 85 percent of these executives are planning to invest more heavily in the cloud in the coming year, as nearly one-third of respondents now recognize the technology as an essential aspect of their organization's efficiency.

"Against this backdrop it's encouraging to see progressive companies realize the potential of [the] cloud to revolutionize their respective industries," Cisco U.K. and Ireland CTO Ian Foddering said. "All these signs point towards a well-established market where the previously blurred boundaries of cloud computing are clearing. IT decision-makers [are] now more educated about the distinctions between cloud and managed services and more willing to invest."

Moving beyond the hype of cloud computing

Since the cloud has been around for some time, there has been a certain amount of hype surrounding the virtual environments and whether the services actually have the ability to enhance operations. According to Cisco, roughly 52 percent of businesses that said the cloud is an essential IT strategy believe the technology has exceeded expectations.

The cloud still appears to be siloed in regard to separate industries, as retail is widely recognized as a "trailblazer," with 39 percent of retail decision-makers saying the cloud is necessary. The public sector, on the other hand, is less inclined to feel that way, as only 24 percent of government and 18 percent of healthcare organizations see the cloud as a strategic priority.

A separate report by CompTIA confirmed these findings, revealing more than one-third of healthcare decision-makers were unaware of the cloud's capabilities. The research firm noted, however, that as more hospitals and facilities migrate to electronic health records, cloud adoption will pick up momentum.

Cloud model opinions vary

Cisco also found that more than half of organizations across all sectors are leveraging the private cloud, up from 34 percent in 2011. Conversely, the public cloud has only been adopted by 29 percent of firms, compared to 18 percent in 2011.

As cloud computing continues to mature and evolve, more decision-makers will recognize the necessity of utilizing the hosted services.

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