A new survey of IT Directors by cloud hosting provider ElasticHosts has found that most servers are over specified and are under-used, however the majority of cloud solutions aimed at solving the problem are 'fake.'

According to the research, on average, businesses are using less than half (49%) of their on-premise server capacity at any given time. So it's no surprise that businesses are turning to cloud solutions that allow them to create solutions on demand, and to only pay for what they use. However in researching the cloud alternatives ElasticHosts found that many of the cloud alternatives on offer were 'fake.'

The survey found that 83% of companies are frustrated with having to cut through marketing hype to find out which solutions are genuine cloud offerings and which are merely conventional hosting services with the word 'cloud' added to the title.

This view is supported by the fact over two thirds (67%) of respondents had been offered 'cloud' services that are fixed term, 40% had been offered services that weren't elastic or scalable and 32% had found that in many cases services weren't even self-service.

The survey has also found that despite the availability of Infrastructure as a Service offerings which allow companies to pay by consumption, many are still paying for server capacity they are not using.

Commenting on the research in an interview with TechRadar, Richard Davies, CEO for ElasticHosts said. "Even though our research shows that servers are under-utilised and most businesses would clearly benefit from cloud, there's the danger – because of fake cloud offerings - that businesses will become disillusioned with cloud computing. " Adding, "The fact that in many instances they are not being offered real cloud services and are being locked into minimum contracts is quite frankly shocking."

Until a solution to routing out 'fake' cloud solutions arrives Davies recommends that businesses benchmark their cloud providers before they commit to signing up. "I'm against a standard for cloud-computing as this is a fast moving industry and there are people out there who are bringing good products to market, and I wouldn't want to slow the market down with a bureaucratic certification process. However businesses should compare their prospective cloud providers against the NIST (US National Institute of Standards and Technology) or Gartner cloud computing definitions to see if they're flexible, self-service and should scale up or down on demand."