Small businesses uptake of cloud computing is heading for a mini-boom, UK online services vendor Gooroo has claimed, after carrying out its own survey of the sector.

The company found that 54 percent of those surveyed said they'd be using cloud services for key functions by 2010, 31 percent of whom described their plans as "firm".

The fly in the ointment was that the sample size was very small - only 30 SME-level directors - and there is also the possibility that the survey was self-selecting because it was carried out using a survey of companies already interested in Gooroo's services , but the detail offers interesting detail on motivation.

Around 65 percent of respondents said their primary motivation for investing in the cloud was to reduce IT costs, ahead of improved efficiency (50 percent), greater flexibility (50 percent), ease of setup (46 percent), and the ability to access business applications from any location (42 percent).

Important cloud apps for the sector were, predictably, accounts, (50 percent), e-commerce management (25 percent), enterprise resource planning (ERP, 21 percent), and customer relation management (CRM, 18 percent).

Another response suggested that the cost of conventional software licensing might be weighing on director's minds - a total of 61 percent had postponed or were going to postpone software spending.

"The finding that surprised us was many SMEs were not just planning to use cloud applications to get new functionality: in many cases they wanted to replace software they already had; 90 percent of respondents said they already used an accounts package, yet this was top of the list of desirable cloud software," commented Gooroo's general manager, Dean Miles.

Drawing firm conclusions from a small survey carried out by a vendor with a vested interest in talking up the technology is treacherous. But it does suggest that the one sector for whom cloud computing could offer a technology boost for relatively little downside could be SMEs with under 50 employees, a segment not yet well served.

Surprisingly, the one application area not mentioned in the survey was security. Perhaps not coincidentally, Gooroo's app focus is subscription access to ERP, accounting, and CRM.