7 Things Your Mom Believes About The Cloud

What's The Deal With The Cloud?

Cloud computing may be changing the way we work and communicate, but many people hold vague and even downright funny views of how it actually works.

A survey of more than 1,000 American adults, conducted by Wakefield Research for desktop virtualization and cloud computing provider Citrix, shows that while the cloud is in wide use, misconceptions about its purpose abound.

Many respondents believe working at home in the buff is a prime benefit brought about by the cloud, and others just think of it as a "mysterious network," or a "white fluffy thing." But once it's explained, a majority recognizes that the cloud can deliver potent economic benefits.

"This survey is to gauge the understanding of the cloud by the man in the street, not the technical expert," said Tom McCafferty, senior director of product marketing at Citrix. Continue on and check out some of the eye-opening ideas people have about the cloud.

You Can Work At Home In Your Birthday Suit!

What do people really like about using the cloud?

When asked what they thought the advantages of using the cloud was, 45 percent said they could access information in their birthday suit; 35 percent said they could share information with people they’d rather not interact with in person; and 33 percent said they could tan on the beach and access computer files at the same time.

"People have wanted to work like that before the onset of the cloud, and they think that if this will help them do that, fine," McCafferty said.

A 'White Fluffy Thing'

Just 16 percent of respondents selected a definition of the cloud as a "computer network to store, access and share data from Internet-connected devices."

Instead, a majority, or 28 percent, said it really is a cloud in the sky, or something related to the weather.

Some individual responses, which totaled 17 percent, called it a white fluffy thing, a mysterious network, toilet paper, a pillow, smoke, heaven, sadness and outer space.

"People understand the cloud is out there, but they don’t know exactly what it does," McCafferty said. "I know my mother has no idea of what I do."

The Invisible Cloud

Most respondents, 54 percent, say they've never used the cloud. But in reality, 95 percent unwittingly avail themselves of cloud services.

Cloud-based services used by the respondents include online banking, 65 percent; online shopping, 63 percent; using social networking sites, 58 percent; playing online games, 45 percent; storing photos online, 29 percent; storing online music or videos, 22 percent; and accessing online file-sharing, 19 percent.

Many people may not make the connection, but cloud computing is powering e-commerce and social networking that most of us use in one way or another, McCafferty noted.

People Pretend They Understand The Cloud

The survey said 22 percent of those polled said they've pretended to know about the cloud or how it works.

Of those who have pretended, 33 percent said they've pretended at their workplace, 14 percent faked it during a job interview and 17 percent falsely claimed knowledge of the cloud during a first date.

But, the pretense doesn't always work, as 56 percent said other people usually don't know what they are talking about when they refer to the cloud.

With such a complicated computing model as the cloud, these findings aren't surprising, said McCafferty. "I run into people daily who pretend to know how the cloud works," he said.

Stormy Weather Interferes With Clouds

A majority, 51 percent, of those polled agreed that stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing, with 13 percent strongly agreeing and 38 percent somewhat agreeing.

Silver Lining

Despite the lack of understanding about the cloud, many responders -- 68 percent -- recognized its economic benefits after it was explained to them.

The benefits most recognized were cost reduction, 35 percent; aiding consumers by reducing costs, 35 percent; increasing customer business engagement, 35 percent; and incentivizing small business growth, 32 percent.

"Once people realize they access the cloud using, for example, services from Google, Amazon or Salesforce, the business benefits become obvious," McCafferty said.

Cloud Turnoffs

When asked what has deterred them from using the cloud, those who have hardly ever or never used the cloud listed cost (34 percent), security concerns (32 percent) and privacy concerns (31) percent as their top reasons.

McCafferty said the respondents did well to perceive that security and privacy are issues that need to be addressed in the cloud, but many experts believe costs will be lowered by cloud computing.

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