A survey of 102 large, multinational companies across the world has found that nearly half (45 percent on average) have adopted some sort of third-party-hosted cloud service this year, compared with last year (28 percent).

The highest adoption was in the area of data management, which includes security, storage and data backup, which has been taken up by around 51 percent of companies, closely followed by networking services (around 48 percent). Companies appeared to be slower at moving communications, such as hosted contact centre of web conferencing, to the cloud environment (45 percent having done so already).

Analysts from Ovum, which carried out the survey on behalf of telecommunications company Cable&Wireless Worldwide, said that companies questioned included the world’s number one steel and car companies, and the world’s second largest soft drink company.

Out of the business applications that companies would consider moving into the cloud, CRM, document management and business productivity applications were ranked the top three most likely applications. In contrast, companies were less likely to consider moving business intelligence or analytics, ERP (enterprise resource planning) supply and ERP finance into the cloud environment.

Report author and practice leader of enterprise services at Ovum, Evan Kirchheimer, said that these findings were not surprising, due to the maturity of the cloud services provided for functions such as CRM.

“ERP and BI systems are the hardest to extract from an implementation in the cloud, so I am not too surprised that these lag,” he added.

Furthermore, security continues to be the main barrier to adoption of cloud services for most companies (nearly 60 percent), especially for organisations in the finance and insurance industry.

However, this was followed by data governance, which was a main barrier for nearly 55 percent of organisations, and the use of public internet, which was a barrier for 40 percent of companies, primarily those in the professional services sector.

Data governance was of particular concern to manufacturers, which Kirchheimer said he suspected was because of intellectual property and supplier relationship issues.

Despite the overall progress in cloud adoption, Ovum concluded that many large companies remain cloud ‘adolescents’.

"We believe the majority of multinational companies are currently between 'early' and 'adolescent' adoption phases of cloud-based services, with broader and deeper adoption being contemplated," said Kirchheimer. 

"Greater adoption is dependent on the resolution of security, governance and reliability, and once these concerns are addressed through standardised, tested offers from service providers, more large enterprises will feel comfortable positioning cloud as a preferred procurement option."

Ovum said that only a few companies have reached the ‘mature’ stage, of an established, complex cloud ecosystem. At this point, cloud would be embedded within the corporate IT governance structure of multinational enterprises, and become the delivery method of choice for larger organisations.

“Some companies are at the mature phase, but not many. That’s where we will get to in a number of years, in between six to 10 years,” Kirchheimer said.