Small to midsize businesses (SMBs) looking to allocate more funds toward areas that directly affect their growth should be looking to the cloud, a new study from Microsoft reveals.

A survey conducted among groups of SMBs that have migrated to the cloud, and others who have not yet made the transition, affirms that adopting the strategy lowers costs relating to security management, allowing enterprises to build on areas that benefit business development.

The research was funded by Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group, although participants were not notified of its involvement.

Of the companies surveyed, more than half were able to add products and services to their business faster and safer after their move to the cloud, a result of having to invest less in security management.  

Forty-one percent of respondents said they were able to employ a larger team in areas that have a direct impact on business growth, while 39 percent invested more resources into product development and 37 percent believed a cloud implementation increased their competitiveness.

One notable statistic in the report is that 34 percent of SMBs adopted the cloud because of increased confidence in “their company's regulatory compliance,” Tim Rains, director at Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group, said in an email to SCMagazine.com.

“Compliance is something many businesses need to get right, and those that move to the cloud say they see these compliance-related benefits,” he said.

Although the findings indicate the business advantages, out of the companies that still have yet to make the switch, 67 percent said that their concerns lie with a lack of accepted security standards.

The Cloud Security Alliance, a nonprofit focused on promoting safe practices for cloud computing, has already launched an initiative to promote transparency – the Security Trust and Assurance Registry – which businesses can access while the industry works on emerging standards, Rains said.

While there are concerns remain, Ryan Brock, vice president of worldwide SMB cloud and channels at Access Markets International (AMI) Partners, a New York-based security solutions company, said a majority of companies will ultimately make the move.

“The bottom line is part of the equation, but equally important to SMBs is the ability to use it effectively for business processes and to compete, and also to lessen the IT management burden,” Brock said in an email to SCMagazine.com.