A growing number of companies are turning to public cloud solutions in order to support their big data analytics deployments, a new study has revealed.

Research by Gigaom and Cazena found more than half of respondents (53 per cent) stated they are looking to leverage public cloud resources as part of their activities in this area, or have already done so. Just 13 per cent of companies stated they have no intention of using public cloud resources as part of their big data plans.

The main reason given for this high level of interest is the perceived cost savings that can be made by embracing cloud computing technology, which was cited by 49 per cent of enterprises. This was followed by the greater agility cloud solutions can offer, which was named as a reason by 30 per cent of firms.

Prat Moghe, founder and chief executive of Cazena, commented that the results show that contrary to popular belief, public cloud services will have a large role to play in analytics processes in the coming months and years

"The cloud holds the keys to unlocking the next phase of big data, where analysis is completed on demand and immediately accessible to the primary users of this information – the C-suite and key decision makers," he said. "Understanding enterprise drivers as well as concerns around the cloud is vital to be able to develop a roadmap of strategic transformation of all enterprises."

On an industry level, the businesses most likely to have already deployed cloud resources as part of their big data activities are manufacturers, technology and consumer electronics companies and the financial sector. 

Meanwhile, retail and insurance firms were also prominent among those expressing an interest in adopting the technology in the near future.

However, it will not all be plain sailing for companies looking to utilise the cloud as part of their analytics processes, as the survey also highlighted several of the most common concerns that businesses have regarding these tools. These worries will therefore have to be addressed by IT departments and providers in order to ensure that the C-suite can feel confident in transferring data to the cloud.

Security concerns top the list of issues to be addressed, with 63 per cent of respondents naming this as a key barrier to the implementation of effective cloud big data solutions. Meanwhile, 35 per cent stated that a lack of existing industry certifications are holding back their deployments, with standards such as SOX and HIPAA the most often cited as being useful, by 35 per cent and 34 per cent of respondents respectively.

Despite these worries, the majority of respondents said that if they had a better understanding of the security issues surrounding the cloud, this would cause them to reassess their current strategy of hesitating or not planning to implement any analytics processes to the cloud.

It may therefore be incumbent on vendors to ensure they can clearly explain to potential customers about how they keep confidential data secure, in order to instil confidence and encourage the use of this technology.

The report noted: "SOX and HIPAA are mentioned most often, but with an expressed need for more standards and understanding of how cloud vendors support these standards. Respondents appear to have a large amount of fear and confusion in this area and would welcome education about standards."