Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Technologists will tell you that the concept of “cloud computing” – i.e. shared server and PC resources delivered on demand – really exploded when the corporate suits learned one fact about it from their information technology gurus.

The “cloud” could save money.

Chief Information Officers, who before were viewed as “cost centers” and fiscal pains in the rears suddenly found doors opened even wider for executive suite meetings with the other c-level powerbrokers.

This technology breakthrough of cloud, which followed on the heels of virtualization that enables servers to support multiple operating systems, sent CFOs and CEOs into a frenzy.

  • How fast can we get on the cloud, they asked.
  • How much headcount can we slash, they asked.
  • How much can we cut CapEx (capital expenditures), the demanded.

Too often they didn’t ask:

  • What are the risks?
  • Should we really share hardware and expose our data?
  • Just how secure are we on a “public” cloud where other companies, including our competitors, are utilizing the same machines?

They were told that “private clouds” offered a safer solution.

But, of course, private vs. public might mean more expense, keeping some IT staff onboard to run it, and the service providers will want more money to make it available.

Which brings us to this new CIO study from IBM (NYSE: IBM).

Big Blue has a big stake in the “cloud” game. Its global data centers, including a new one in RTP, are geared for enterprises looking to dump expense and benefit from the dollars savings afforded by virtualization and sharing.

Maybe the 60 percent of the CIOs who said in the survey that they are ready to embrace the “cloud” responded before the news broke about the collapse of Amazon’s cloud and the hack of Sony’s PlayStation network.

Are their heads in the clouds?

The rush to the cloud has become a stampede of potential lemmings.

“In IBM’s 2009 CIO study, only a third of CIOs said they planned to pursue cloud to gain a competitive advantage,” IBM says. “This year’s study shows a dramatic increase in the focus on cloud, particularly in media and entertainment, which rose to 73 percent, automotive (70 percent) and telecommunications (69 percent).”

The lemmings are everywhere, too.

“From a country standpoint, seven out of 10 CIOs in the U.S., Japan and South Korea, and 68 percent in China, now identify cloud as a top priority,” IBM reports. “This is dramatically up from 2009, when CIO interest in cloud hovered at about a third in each of these countries.”

Everybody it seems is rushing to get on the “cloud,” and too many of them aren’t calculating the cost of failure – just the money saved.

By the way, be sure to read rPath’s Jake Soforman’s views on IT threats. He warns about IT becoming ”a house of cards.”

Read the CIO survey here.

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