Emerging economies are ripe markets for cloud computing services – including paid services – but users in those markets are likely to share log-in credentials, a potential avenue for license abuse.
This is according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which partnered with Ipsos Public Affairs to survey nearly 15 000 computer users in 33 countries about their understanding and use of cloud computing.
Globally, 45% of all computer users say they use “online services that let you create, manage, and store documents, spreadsheets, photos or other digital content so that you can access them from any computer by logging on through the Internet”. But in emerging economies such as Thailand, Malaysia, Argentina, and Peru, the figure jumps to 50%, on average, while in mature economies such as the US, the UK, Germany, and France, it drops to an average of 33%.
“We’re seeing a leapfrog effect. A lot of recent adopters of computers and information technology are jumping straight to the cloud,” says BSA president and CEO Robert Holleyman. “If you live in a developing economy and use a computer, then, likely as not, you also use cloud computing services at least some of the time for email, word processing, document or photo storage, or other things — although you might not understand those services to be ‘cloud computing.’’’
Globally, 88% of the world’s self-identified cloud users say they use cloud services for personal purposes, and 33% say they use cloud services for business. In both cases, the figures are slightly higher in emerging economies than in mature ones.
Free services predominate for personal use around the world. But 33% of cloud users globally – with similar percentages in both emerging and mature economies – say they pay for at least half of the services they use for business.
“Emerging economies are smaller markets than mature economies, at least for now,” says Holleyman. “But they appear to be just as ready to adopt paid cloud computing services. That’s a promising sign for the global cloud computing market.”
Yet BSA’s survey also uncovers cause for concern: around the world, 42% of those who say they use paid cloud services for business also say they share their login credentials inside their organisations. On this, there is a noteworthy split. In emerging economies, 45% of those using paid cloud services for business say they share their log-in credentials internally, compared to 30% in mature economies.
“This is eye-opening data,” says Holleyman. “It doesn’t necessarily mean 42 percent of business users are pirating cloud services. Some licenses may allow sharing of accounts – and many cloud service providers charge not by ‘seat’ but by the volume of computing resources consumed, making the path users take to access those resources less important.
“But it’s worth noting that 56% of the people who use paid cloud services for business believe it’s wrong for co-workers to share log-in credentials,” Holleyman adds. “Depending on the terms of their service agreements, they could be right: Sharing credentials could constitute license abuse.
“The fact that so many people share their credentials for cloud services despite believing it’s wrong to do highlights the chronic nature of software piracy. Governments need to provide clear protection and allow for vigorous enforcement against misappropriation and infringement of IP in the cloud.”