Companies are moving more and more data, applications and mission-critical digital assets from on-premise systems to cloud-based environments. We've been talking for awhile now about how this shift is causing many companies to "double down" on their last mile network connection to ensure fast, reliable access to the information they need 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

But just how significant of an impact does network connectivity now have on business operations and success? Comcast Business Services recently commissioned a survey of IT and business managers at small- and medium-sized businesses to find out.

According to survey results, seven in 10 businesses view network connectivity as having evolved from a tactical cost of doing business to a strategic or transformational asset — a 67% increase compared to two years ago! This suggests network connectivity is becoming more than just infrastructure "plumbing" — it's now a critical connection needed to operate effectively.

To further support this, a recent report by analyst firm Analysys Mason suggests that the SMB cloud services market in the U.S. will grow from $2.0 billion in 2011 to $5.3 billion in 2016. In order to make this happen, more businesses will realize that moving to the cloud isn't enough — it's how quickly and reliably they can access that cloud (and the applications in it) that will determine their success.

Ethernet Emerges as Best of Breed

And as businesses realize this, they're finding that Ethernet is a connectivity solution that can meet their needs. This is evidenced in a recent Vertical Systems Group report that found businesses are now investing in Ethernet over T1 lines or other legacy technologies for network connectivity. And our own survey results suggest this "death" of the T1 too. According to the survey, Ethernet is the most common technology used by organizations today (65%) and overwhelmingly the solution that organizations plan to invest in over the next 12 to 24 months (57%).

Survey data is one thing, but here's a real world example of a customer using Ethernet to transform their business. Navos, a mental health facility based in Seattle, recently upgraded its network infrastructure from a 1.5 Mbps T1 line from the phone company to a 50 Mbps Comcast Business Class Ethernet connection. With the switch, Navos will see $7,200 per year in cost savings; experience an 80% reduction in data back-up time; and improve its patient care through quick access to electronic patient records, fast file transfers and reliable video conferencing capabilities.

Is your company ready to be transformed by Ethernet?