The cloud computing model is quietly sweeping the nation, according to a new survey of 2,000 IT decision makers conducted by Microsoft, with major cities like San Francisco, Boston and Chicago leading the way in cloud adoption.Microsoft has a vested interest in gathering data on cloud trends. The software giant is transforming its business model to adjust to the cloud model of hosting IT services over the Web rather than having IT pros manage servers themselves on-premises. \n\nVirtualization and Cloud Computing Hiring Outlook for 2011\nCloud Computing: 2011 Predictions\nIT in 2011: Four Trends that Will Change Priorities\n\nThe survey analyzes how cloud computing is helping create new lines of business, more need for IT services, and potential job growth in U.S. cities. Slideshow: The Worst U.S. Cities to Work in ITThe cities are ranked based on how businesses large and small in industries such as manufacturing, finance, and retail and hospitality are hiring vendors to migrate to the cloud, seeking IT professionals with cloud computing experience, and creating new lines of business based on cloud platforms. Here are 10 of the most cloud friendly cities based on the Microsoft survey. Because some cities are more cloud-ready with large companies and some excel with smaller companies, the rankings are not in best-to-worst order. All the cities listed are cloud-friendly in different ways.Chicago, Ill.Chicago gets high marks (a 9 out of 10) in the survey of "cloud-friendly" cities. Cloud momentum may be swinging because half of IT decision makers at large companies in Chi-Town say cloud computing is an opportunity to be more strategic. Small businesses are also beginning to see the benefits in the Windy City, with 39 percent stating they are encouraged to deploy cloud services because they are cost-effective.Boston, Mass.Beantown is ranked as the most "cloud-friendly" city for large companies. The Hub has a high percentage of companies that view cloud services as an opportunity to be more innovative and strategic. Nearly half (46 percent) of large businesses have one or more cloud projects planned and underway, and more than half are already using the cloud for e-mail, communication and collaboration.San Francisco, Calif.San Francisco ranks among the top "cloud-friendly" cities. Half of IT decision makers at large companies in San Francisco have at least one cloud project planned or underway. Also, 40 percent of IT decision makers at local small companies believe cloud computing is an innovative solution to their IT problems.Washington, D.C.Washington, D.C., is the most "cloud-friendly" city for small businesses. Of those businesses that have adopted cloud services, enabling a remote workforce and lower total cost of ownership are listed as the top reasons for the move. Almost half (46 percent) of IT decision makers at local businesses report cost savings of at least $1,000 through their use of cloud services.Atlanta, Ga.Atlanta ranks in the middle of the cloud-friendly pack. The majority (62 percent) of IT decision-makers at large companies in Atlanta currently employ, or plan to implement, cloud-based e-mail and communications tools like IM and voice. But only 36 percent of those at small businesses plan to do the same.Dallas, TexasDallas ranks third among the most cloud-ready cities for large companies. Forty-six percent of big-company IT decision-makers in Dallas believe the cloud is an engine of innovation, whereas only 37 percent of those surveyed nationally believe so. Of the local small companies, 46 percent say they are encouraged to buy cloud services for reliable security, far exceeding the response of enterprise companies (29 percent).Philadelphia, Pa.Philadelphia ranks among the top three "cloud-friendly" cities for small business adoption. A majority (87 percent) of IT decision makers at large companies have at least some knowledge of the cloud compared with only half (50 percent) of small businesses. But regardless of company size, a high percentage of survey respondents cite low total cost of ownership as a reason to transition to the cloud.New York, N.Y.There's a great contrast in cloud adoption between small and large businesses in The Big Apple. New York businesses claim the highest number of enterprises nationwide using cloud-based applications. While nearly half (46 percent) of large companies have cloud projects actively underway, only a small percentage (14 percent) of New York's small businesses say the same.Los Angeles\/Orange County, Calif.Los Angeles and Orange County rank fourth among the most cloud-ready cities for small companies. Of the IT decision makers surveyed, nearly half (46 percent) are investing in cloud services. Small businesses see cloud services as the best way to ensure they always have the latest upgrades available to them, and that focusing more strategic projects will reduce IT workload.Detroit, Mich.The Motor City ranks near the bottom for "cloud-friendly" cities. But the future may be getting brighter there for the cloud as 47 percent of IT decision makers in Detroit see the cloud as an avenue for creating business advancements, saying the cloud is an engine of innovation. A tiny majority (51 percent) of respondents agree that investing in IT during the next five years will boost profitability.Shane O'Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Shane at firstname.lastname@example.org.