It’s well known that Amazon Web Services is the largest public cloud platform in use today.

With 55 percent year-over-year growth and a customer base that pulls in more than one million active users a month, our partners over at Rackspace thought it was time to see what made these businesses turn to AWS. The result was a major survey, which polled nearly 500 UK companies using AWS about their adoption trends and strategies.

Check out the full survey now.

From energy companies to education, telecoms and transportation, the results revealed a quiet revolution that’s currently unfolding in today’s business world. Over half the businesses surveyed told us AWS was either “very important” or absolutely “critical” to their future business strategy.

That’s not all. More than three-quarters of those surveyed believe AWS has helped increased innovation in their business. That may be one reason use of AWS (and spending on it) is set to soar over the next twelve months.

“Over three-quarters of companies believe AWS has increased innovation in their organization.”

The research also revealed 85 percent of businesses run production workloads on AWS. Big data, websites, ecommerce, testing and development were all cited by those questioned as uses for the workloads they’re running on AWS.

Further, while businesses definitely recognize the value of the cloud, they also realize there’s a choice of cloud providers out there. That’s why expertise in areas such as security and compliance, and other factors such as global reach (and that old chestnut — cost) will be a big influence in choosing a cloud provider. AWS may be a brand leader, but businesses aren’t afraid to employ multiple cloud platforms.

It’s not surprising that data protection is the top security priority for any business considering leveraging a cloud platform. Businesses are moving towards more future-proof solutions too. AWS users stated that 77 percent of them invested significant time keeping abreast of their provider’s functionality and innovation.

So far so good. But one of the biggest numbers revealed in the Rackspace survey was this one: 86 percent of businesses surveyed are finding it challenging to recruit certified AWS expertise. While that’s great news for Rackspace (the skills gap means demand for managed services like our Fanatical Support for AWS will continue to deliver customer value), it could prevent companies from making a decision to migrate to the cloud.

“86 percent of businesses are finding it challenging to recruit certified AWS expertise. “

For us, though, it merely highlights the benefits of outsourcing cloud management, including migration, security, optimization, solution architecting and support. These are all new areas for many companies, but ones for which the burden can be lifted. That’s why the transition to cloud is not a case of if, but when and how.