Thirty-nine percent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) expect to be paying for one or more cloud computing services within three years, 34% more than presently do. In addition, the number of cloud services SMBs pay for will almost double in most countries over the next three years, according to Microsoft’s “SMB Cloud Adoption Study 2011.”

Cloud service hosting providers can profit by offering collaboration, data storage, back-up or business class e-mail, according to the study.

Additional findings include:

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  • Those SMBs paying for cloud services will be using 3.3 services, up from fewer than two services today.
  • Past experience with support from a service provider is a key driver of service provider selection among SMBs. Eighty-two percent of SMBs say buying cloud services from a provider with local presence is critical or important.
  • The larger the business, the more likely it is to pay for cloud services. For example, 56 percent of companies with 51–250 employees will pay for an average of 3.7 services within three years.
  • Within three years, 43% of workloads will become paid cloud services, but 28% will remain on-premises. Twenty-nine percent will be free or bundled with other services.

“Cloud adoption will be gradual, and SMBs will continue to operate in a hybrid model with an increasing blend between off-premises and traditional on-premises infrastructure, for the foreseeable future,” said Marco Limena, vice president, Business Channels, Worldwide Communications Sector at Microsoft. “As cloud computing becomes more ubiquitous and SMBs’ existing IT becomes outdated, adoption will grow rapidly. Hosting service providers should consider the appropriate sales, delivery and support models to target larger SMB customers that are more likely to pay for cloud services.”

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