An increasing number of enterprise employees are asking their IT security organizations to make the jump to cloud services, according to a recent study from Cloud Security Alliance. The increase in positive perception toward cloud adoption could be indicative of a widespread change in public opinion regarding the safety and reliability of the cloud services market as a whole.

CSA’s survey, titled “The Cloud Balancing Act for IT: Between Promise and Peril” polled more than 200 IT and security professionals in the Americas, EMEA and APAC to gage their perception of the importance of cloud services and their willingness to make the jump from legacy services to the cloud. CSA found that 64.9 percent of IT trusts the cloud as much or more than their on-premise solutions. In fact, security professionals surveyed said they received 10.6 requests, on average, per month from employees looking for additional cloud services within their business.

The survey also indicated that 71 percent of companies surveyed have set up a formal process for employees to request cloud services - a sure sign of the rapid-fire requests for virtual solutions being hurled at IT pros on a weekly basis.

So how has perception about the importance of cloud services changed over the past several years? In the past, business owners accustomed to utilizing legacy storage and in-house services struggled to see the benefits of cloud computing, especially in light of recent high-profile data leaks and controversy as to the effectiveness of remote solutions. Like any new technology, cloud services were strange and different from the norm, causing those adverse to change to shy away from their use for fear of exposing sensitive information.

But in recent years, cloud has become increasingly more prevalent in both consumer and enterprise use, and in doing so has demonstrated its worth as a replacement for both physical storage and traditional data center services. While many organizations still have their reservations about the reliability of the cloud, even those reluctant to change their ways are beginning to embrace these services.

“As a growing number of companies have become more confident in cloud security measures and, with that, are moving their systems of records to the cloud, the role of IT and its relationship to the line of business is changing,” said Jim Reavis, CEO of the CSA, in a statement. “This survey provides excellent insight into what security professionals are doing to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits of transforming their businesses into cloud-first organizations.”

The study, which was sponsored by Skyhigh Networks, also polled respondents on adjacent topics related to cloud security. The most interesting highlights included:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) is the most widely used cloud-based system, according to respondents.
  • Having a Chief Information Security Officer, or CISO, in place generally makes employees feel more prepared to take on a potential cyber attack.
  • People, not programs, are the top barrier to stopping data loss in the cloud.
  • Nearly a quarter of companies surveyed said they would pay a ransom to a hacker to prevent a cyber attack. Of those, 14 percent said they would be willing to pay in excess of $1 million.

Of course, a company like Skyhigh Networks has a vested interest in convincing businesses to switch from legacy to cloud security solutions, but the findings in this study are solid in that virtual security can indeed be a safe alternative to physical systems. While we are unlikely to ever see a 100 percent migration to cloud services in terms of enterprise IT, the results are heartening for those who already know the benefit of taking their business processes beyond the confines of the data center.