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September 5, 2012

The Cloud Is Over Most People’s Heads

Robert Gelber

Understanding the ins and outs of cloud computing can be a fairly complicated task. For example, deciphering the difference between local applications utilizing a cloud platform vs. Web-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) implementations. Both configurations have the ability to achieve similar results for the end user, but their processes are inherently different from each other. That being said, a couple recent surveys have shown that most people are downright baffled by cloud technologies.

Last week, Citrix announced the results of a cloud survey conducted by Wakefield Research. The study aimed to discover what people actually think about cloud computing. 1,006 Americans were asked some basic questions regarding cloud technologies. With 40 percent of respondents saying that working “in the buff” was the the cloud’s greatest advantage, the survey displayed a situation that is both hopeless and humorous.

Of the participants, 54 percent said they hardly use or never use cloud technologies, even though 95 percent claimed to use services like Gmail, Facebook and YouTube. 22 percent admitted they pretended to know how the cloud works, and were bold enough to do so during a job interview.

29 percent believed cloud technologies had something to do with the weather and 51 percent thought that changes in weather could affect cloud computing. That last statistic has some potential to be true, like when Amazon suffered an outage due to severe storms at one of their datacenters.

Given the results, one could potentially argue that the Citrix survey was possibly flawed. Maybe the questions were too vague or the participants might have been improperly selected. But yesterday, EurActive reported on the results of a similar, but larger survey on the other side of the Atlantic. Nonprofit trade association Business Software Alliance (BSA) facilitated the study.

Out of 4,000 European computer users polled, only 24 percent said they access cloud applications. 65 percent were unfamiliar with cloud computing and some admitted they “never heard the name.”

Usage varied quite a bit between countries. On the higher end of the spectrum, respondents from Greece and Romania reported 39 percent adoption of cloud technologies. On the other hand, only 9 percent of those surveyed from Poland said they were familiar with cloud applications.

These surveys reveal that a surprising number of people are unfamiliar with cloud technologies and the benefits they provide. To combat this issue, the European Commission is set to release a cloud computing strategy for the European Union. This includes fixing regulatory concerns and promoting off-site data storage services, like Amazon’s recently announced Glacier service. Similarly, the US office of Management and Budget has issued a cloud first IT strategy.