Most CFOs at mid-sized UK firms are still unwilling to place their IT infrastructure in the cloud because of fears over data security, downtime and loss of control. They are also still unaware about the benefits offered by cloud computing.

Research commissioned by SunGard Availability Services, the business continuity specialist, questioned chief financial officers at mid-sized UK headquartered organisations about their attitudes to the cloud.

The research found that 56 percent of respondents cited fears around the security of sensitive customer or commercial data. The research also showed that high-profile media stories around IT outages or data losses are heightening these fears, with nearly half (45 percent) of the respondents admitting that such cases make them more inclined to keep their data in-house, despite the cost implications.

And many CFOs say they do not have a clear picture of the cloud, despite cloud computing being frequently cited as a key technology to reduce IT spend.

Only one third (34 percent) of UK CFOs said they understood fully the benefits of moving their IT into the cloud, and less than a third (28 percent) say they know the difference between private and public clouds. "These are two very different approaches to cloud computing, with very different data security and integrity attributes," said SunGard.

Worries around control of data are also holding back investment. Loss of control concerns nearly 60% of CFOs when handing data over to a third party, and only 15% of CFOs surveyed said they would be happy to have all of their data in the hands of a third party.

Keith Tilley, executive vice president of Europe at SunGard Availability Services, said, "IT vendors and senior in-house IT employees need to do much more to educate financial decision makers about the benefits of moving to an appropriate outsourced IT environment and the related use of outsourcing partners."

The research was carried out by Vanson Bourne among 100 CFOs organisations employing between 250 and 1,000 staff.