ABS puts the spotlight on cloud, for the first time

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has made its first assessment of the use of paid cloud services by Australian businesses, and found that almost 20 percent were using them in July 2014.

Business were asked what benefits cloud services had provided. Overall 47.2 percent cited simplicity of deployment of cloud-based solutions and 46.2 percent cited increased productivity.

Ignorance rather than the oft-cited issue of security emerged as the greatest barrier organisations face in gaining the benefits of cloud services. Almost 23 percent listed insufficient knowledge of cloud computing services as the main barrier to their use of paid cloud computing services. Uncertainty about the location of data was cited as a barrier by 10.5 percent of businesses.

The ABS found usage increasing with business size, reaching 40 percent for businesses with more than 200 employees, but even for the smallest businesses, those with less than four people, the figure was 17 percent. Usage was highest for information media and telecommunications businesses at 43 percent and lowest for businesses in agriculture, forestry and fisheries at nine percent.

Axelera CEO, Vinc Cinc said: “I think the spread of figures here shows that many businesses have yet to realise, and take advantage of, the many benefits offered by cloud services.”

Of the cloud services used, software as a service was by far the most popular, used by 87 percent of all the businesses that used cloud services.

This was followed by storage capacity (57 percent) and platform as a service (what the ABS calls “processing power to run own software”) used by 10 percent of cloud service users.

The data on cloud usage was gathered as part of the ABS’s 2013-14 Business Characteristics Survey (BCS). The BCS is an annual annual survey and is the vehicle for the ABS' Integrated Business Characteristics Strategy (IBCS). According to the ABS, “The strategy integrates the collection and quality assurance of data required for input into both the ABS' Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) and the production of point in time estimates for: use of information technology; innovation; and a broad range of other non-financial characteristics.”

The random survey sample of 6,640 businesses was sourced from the ABS’s business register. However, the sample included all businesses on the register with more than 300 employees.

It also seems likely that the ABS may not have accurately estimated the usage of cloud services, as it defines them. The ABS glossary says: “Cloud computing refers to IT services that are used over the Internet to access software, computing power or storage capacity.” Many large businesses would use private links to access cloud computing services.

About Axelera

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