Cloud computing? What’s that?

Jan 09, 2013

Two in five people say they have little or no understanding of cloud

While the IT industry continues to talk up the potential power of cloud computing, new research published today indicates the general public’s understanding of ‘the cloud’ is still poor.

Hosting firm Webfusion polled more than 1,000 members and discovered that almost two in five (38 percent) said that they had little or no understanding of the term, while only a third (34 percent) said they were confident that they knew what it meant.

Although the poll found that ‘cloudy’ applications such as file hosting services similar to Dropbox, email services like Hotmail or Gmail, or online music hosting such as iTunes were each seen as cloud services by around 30 percent of the population, a similar proportion did not recognise these to be cloud. A much smaller proportion (15.7 percent) said that scalable hosting across multiple servers counted as a cloud service.

“The word ‘cloud’ is a nebulous one at the best of times, and it can mean a whole host of discrete things to different people,” comments Thomas Vollrath, CEO of Webfusion’s parent company Host Europe Group. “However, the term itself – and its underlying message of bringing lower costs and greater flexibility to IT – is only really relevant to businesses.

“The research shows that providers of online services to the consumer market should be very wary of using the word ‘cloud’,” he continues. “Most users don’t understand the technicalities of what defines a cloud service, and probably care even less. All they want is innovative applications that give a great user experience on a variety of personal devices, and consumer marketers should concentrate on those messages.

“Telling a business owner or MD that you can significantly lower their hosting costs and improve availability is usually a much more compelling message than simply to rely on the cachet of cloud,” he adds.

Elsewhere, other research just released says only 12 percent of SMEs have adopted cloud solutions.

The report from software company INFORM says that while 68 percent of SMEs can envisage adopting the cloud at some point, 76 percent haven’t done so because of concerns over safety and a lack of familiarity towards the technology.

“These results show that companies still view the cloud with caution, perceiving it to present great risk to the business, especially with regards to data safety,” comments Karsten Horn, director of inventory and supply chain division at INFORM.

“While there has been much discussion around the cloud, it’s clear that this isn’t resonating with businesses, as the low adoption rate comes from an uncertainty which I believe is being caused by conflicting information around the technology.”

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