The panoply of scalable solutions the cloud service providers offer for business improvement continue to drive enterprise cloud adoption. North Bridge Venture Partners recently released its third annual "Future of Cloud Computing Survey," which examined the reasons why businesses are migrating operations to the cloud, what opportunities they see for growth and which factors are still giving them pause. Overall, the survey found that 75 percent of respondents utilized cloud platforms to some degree in 2013, a rise from the 67 percent who said the same in 2012.

The large-scale survey, which was conducted in conjunction with GigaOM Research and 57 other organizations, compiled the views of 855 respondents, including IT professionals, business users and CSPs. Over one-third of respondents were C-level executives in their companies. North Bridge analysts spoke to the cloud's enormous growth since it came into business usage and stated that its many advantages will continue to foster investment.

"Self-empowered consumers and businesses are taking the lead, and in many instances, regardless of IT," said general partner Michael Skok. "But IT is investing heavily by both adapting internal infrastructure and adopting public infrastructure to respond on demand, while managing the inevitable issues of compliance and regulation through hybrid approaches."

Factors driving adoption
The business leaders surveyed cited many different options as contributing factors to enterprise-class cloud computing migration. Optimizing business applications, interestingly, represented a bigger adoption driver than improving IT applications – 52 percent use cloud applications targeted at increasing business operations vitality, while only 36 percent use them for IT advancement. The survey dug deeper into the business v. IT dichotomy, querying respondents about their use of different business and IT applications. Four different business cloud applications – file sharing, CRM/marketing, business productivity and social business/collaboration – had a utilization rate of over 50 percent, while no critical IT cloud application was used by over half of the respondents.

However, IT applications will increasingly belong to the cloud, as big data, systems management and mobile services drive the increased migration of information technology operations to cloud infrastructure.

IaaS cloud is fastest-growing
Among the survey's queries were questions about the level of immersion organizations had in specialized cloud services, like IaaS, SaaS and PaaS. The survey found an interesting relationship between the main trifecta of cloud service solutions. Currently, SaaS is the most utilized cloud service, maintaining the lead it held last year. Sixty-three percent of organizations use SaaS, an increase over the 55 percent who said so in 2012. IaaS, however, represents the fastest grower, with utilization increasing from 35 percent in 2012 to 45 percent this year.

IaaS adoption enables businesses to store more critical operations components in the cloud while optimizing security and productivity, two features which are likely to drive IaaS cloud usage past that of SaaS. The survey predicted that it would be PaaS that would take control over the next five years, as 72 percent of business leaders surveyed expected that they would migrate to PaaS within that span. As computing services become increasingly re-sourced through cloud partner programs, it is likely that new cloud investors will continue to appear.