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First, let’s get the disagreements out of the way: Exactly how big will the cloud industry be by 2014? IT research and advisory company Gartner predicts it will surpass the $148 billion mark, while its competitor, Forrester, says it will reach $118 billion. Either way, everyone is agreeing that cloud computing is growing at an unprecedented rate as more and more enterprises recognize the cost benefits of migrating, driving demand for hosted IT services, particularly cloud email and collaboration solutions.

As a long-time provider of industry-standard business solutions like Hosted Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and more, we get to see on a daily basis just to what extent these cloud-based solutions offer significant benefits for organizations of all types and sizes. Especially for SMBs, which tend to have big needs, but few resources.

For IT managers and decision makers who are still straddling the fence on the “in-house vs. cloud” issue, the following may help put things into perspective.

Innovators and Early Adopters Already in the Cloud – Early Majority Now Migrating

The cloud is now shifting from innovators and early adopters to the early majority stage. So far, most of the demand for enterprise cloud services has come from techie innovators and visionary early adopters who quickly saw the potential for cost savings by migrating.

Now that these two groups are productively working in the cloud, the pragmatic early majority is ready to migrate. The main factor driving this shift is their need for IT infrastructure to quickly support mobile devices. We expect that the majority of SMBs in the U.S. will either adopt or thoroughly examine their options for adopting cloud services in 2013.

And as they do, the landscape of cloud computing will change dramatically. Cloud computing will no longer become a technical issue but rather a powerful business asset.

While cloud computing benefits all organizations, it particularly opens big doors for small and mid-sized business by giving them access to instantly deployable, scalable and updatable software, Fortune 500 infrastructure and expertise. In other words, small organizations get to play on a more level field with much larger organizations—without the hefty expense of investing in state-of-the-art equipment, training and payroll. With cloud services, you only pay for what you use, and at a low and predictable monthly-cost.

That being said, many SMBS are still holding back from migrating to the cloud. Why? A loss of control over data security, and unreliable performance being the two biggest reasons. So in the meantime, they struggle to make do with their in-house resources.

This hesitation has not gone unnoticed by the leading hosting providers (like SherWeb), who are going to great lengths to differentiate themselves through personalized support, more customizable plans and enterprise-class features with financially-backed SLAs so that their services better meet the specific needs of individual organizations (and perform reliability as promised), rather than trying to entice businesses with a “one size fits all” solution.

According to Forrester, which seems to err on the conservative side when it comes to making predictions, the cloud computing market will grow six times within the next 10 years, topping $241 billion by 2020. As independent security testing and industry service level agreement standards become built-in features of all cloud services, adoption will make its way into the late majority stage.

Cloud computing is rapidly changing the way we do business—and early adopters are seeing the greatest benefits.

SherWeb is a SAS 70 Type II compliant hosting provider with strict internal controls to comply with the ever-growing stream of legislation regarding the protection of privacy and corporate accountability. You can find out more about how this certification ensures data security here.

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