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Microsoft Releases Details of Massive Hosting Survey

As part of the Microsoft Hosting Summit, Microsoft released a wealth of detail from a massive customer survey it commissioned about cloud and hosting adoption trends.

The global survey, "Hosting and Cloud Go Mainstream," by 451 Research drew responses from more than 2,000 companies and organizations of all sizes from 11 countries, with more than a third of respondents coming from the United States.

I'm still going through the 75-slide deck, and I'll be talking to Marco Limena, vice president of hosting service providers at Microsoft, on Thursday about the results. But a few data points jumped out already:

  • Cloud is taking off. Asked "Which of the following best describes your organization's adoption of cloud computing models?" only 1 percent said they weren't even looking at cloud. Of the rest, 27 percent were in discovery and evaluation, 27 percent were in running trials/pilot projects, 29 percent were engaged in initial implementations of production apps, and 16 percent reported broad implementation of production apps.

    Tackling the same theme with a different question, 451 Research asked, "What is your organization's goal for the proportion of applications or resources that will be part of a cloud computing environment in two years?" The average of responses was 39 percent.

  • SaaS leads the way in cloud services. Asked which type of cloud and hosting service they were using, a whopping 71 percent said Software as a Service (SaaS), followed closely by hosted infrastructure services at 69 percent. Other types followed at a greater distance -- outsourcing services stood at 43 percent, Platform as a Service (PaaS) was at 37 percent, and colocation services were at 27 percent.

  • Best practices are pretty consistent. The researchers fished for organizations' emerging best practices around cloud computing projects and got remarkably similar answers across regions and organizational sizes. As an example, the top five best practices for North America in descending order were: "Have a well-defined architecture for security," "Understand who the end users are," "Train users to be cautious with access and security," "Have a well-defined architecture for performance" and "Start with projects that are non-disruptive to end-users."

    There were, of course, some differences. Enterprise organizations with more than 500 users rated the performance architecture higher and advocated a phased approach with pilot testing. SMBs of fewer than 100 companies, on the other hand, recommended "Have an 'undo' plan to make it easy to move off the provider."

  • A puzzling result on PRISM. The survey also included a head-scratcher about PRISM, the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance program defined in the survey as giving the U.S. government access to metadata and content from public cloud providers such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo. Overall, 53 percent of respondents were aware of PRISM, with higher awareness in North America and among organizations with more than 500 employees and lower awareness in Asia and South America.

    The puzzler is a question assessing the impact of PRISM revelations on customers' perceptions of cloud computing. The largest group, 39 percent, reported a positive impact on their perception of cloud computing (31 percent had a negative impact and 30 percent were in a "no impact" category). It would be interesting to hear the thinking behind answers by respondents who had a more positive view of cloud computing based on hearing that the NSA is accessing the data of major cloud providers.

Microsoft is sharing a lot of 451 Research data here with a lot of information about customer psychology regarding cloud, hosting and buying decisions. Surveys like this are one of those services for partners that Microsoft, because of its scale, can provide that few smaller partners can match. Dig into the results yourself here.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 19, 2014