Turning to cloud-based tools for mission-critical operations such as data storage, processing and analytics is now the norm for many companies, with this technology viewed as a key part of a successful business.

This is according to Gartner, which stated that Software-as-a-Service tools are often favoured as they promise benefits in terms of expenses, agility and innovation. Some 44 per cent of respondents from around the world cited overall cost reduction as the main reason for adoption.

However, while financial issues were foremost in the minds of more junior IT roles, senior executives were more excited by cloud computing's potential for innovation and operational agility.

Indeed, one of the most popular uses for the technology is the development and testing of mission-critical workloads. 

For instance, when a company is experimenting with new big data solutions, cloud-based technologies can be highly valuable, as it can allow firms to quickly evaluate a variety of approaches and make changes as necessary without having to go all the way back to the start.

Other benefits of the technology include the fact it enables IT departments to take a more 'hands-off' approach to everyday activities such as maintaining and patching applications. This allows firms to redeploy their limited IT resources to other areas, as in-house staff no longer have to worry about responsibilities that are taken on by the cloud provider.

However, businesses that are looking to shift large amounts of information into the cloud for in-depth analytics operations will need to have reassurances that their chosen solutions are well-protected, as worries over security remain among the biggest concerns IT executives have about the cloud.

Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner, said data loss and the risk of breaches were among the main concerns expressed by survey respondents, along with unsecure application programming interfaces and sharing technology in a multi-tenant environment.

"In addition, recent concerns of government snooping in the name of anti-terrorism and general privacy issues contribute to the lack of public cloud adoption," she added.