Nearly 40 percent of small and mid-sized enterprises expect to be using at least one cloud-based service within the next three years, according to a new report from Microsoft.

The company’s global survey of 3,258 companies with 250 employees or less across 16 countries—the SME Cloud Adoption Study 2011—indicates that 39 percent of them will be somehow in the cloud by 2014, up from 34 percent now.

Other findings from the study included 82 percent of respondents saying location of their cloud service provider is irrelevant, and 56 percent of companies with 51 to 250 employees saying they would pay for an average of 3.7 services in three years’ time. The survey also showed that 43 percent of IT workloads would become paid cloud services.

The overall increase in percentage of IT users in the cloud, while small, does suggest rising acceptance of the cloud environment and boosted confidence that cloud-based solutions can not only meet IT needs, but also offer the necessary peace of mind and security for IT pros.