A survey done by Wakefield Research this month revealed some interesting facts about the majority of US citizens. It would seem that most of them do not understand what “the cloud” is and are confused when this term appears in a conversation. Also, a large number of them claim to have knowledge of what the cloud is when asked in an interview (14%) or in a discussion (56%) and, believe it or not, 17% say that they have faked knowing what the cloud is on a first date!

What is this “Cloud”?

Stormy Weather Interferes With Cloud Computing, US Survey Reveals

For those who think of “the cloud” as a fluffy white thing floating in the air, well, you are wrong (at least in this context). The cloud actually refers to “cloud computing” and “cloud storage”. This means that the cloud is a vast network of computers and servers located around the world, which hold information and allow access to that information from any device that has an Internet connection. This allows sharing of files, information, storage space and resources over the Internet.

Let’s take a look at the numbers

The survey carried out on 1000 adult americans of age 18 and more paint a disturbing picture: 54% of americans do not know what the cloud is and claim to never have used it. But, from these, 95% use it regularly for online banking, online shopping, social sites such as Facebook or Twitter and online sharing of photos and files. All of these services operate within the cloud, but it would seem that not everyone understands this. Also, another alarming number is that  51% of the surveyed Americans think that stormy weather can interfere with the functionality of the cloud.

Although these numbers are worrying, there is also a “silver lining”. After learning about the cloud and what it is, 68% of americans have acknowledged that it has potential economic value, 35% say that it can help lower costs and 32% think that it can help small businesses grow. Also, in the list of advantages of the cloud, 40% think that it could help them work from home buck naked, or relaxing somewhere while getting their job done via the Internet (33%). Those who are more antisocial think that the cloud is a good thing, because they can share information with people they rather not meet in person (35%).

Many still fear the cloud

Stormy Weather Interferes With Cloud Computing, US Survey Reveals (2)

While the majority of Americans saw the benefits of the cloud after learning what it is, there are still those who fear the cloud and see some disadvantages. The top ranking disadvantages of the cloud, as it was pointed out by this survey are:

  • cost (34% of Americans think that cloud storage is too expensive)
  • security (32% do not feel safe uploading their information on the cloud, maybe they would if they know a few tips to upgrade the security if the cloud account)
  • privacy (31% tend to think that others can obtain their information stored on the cloud)

Are these fears real?

As we saw, the three disadvantages of the cloud, as pointed out by the American population are cost, security and privacy. Although they have some realism, these so called “disadvantages” can be worked with. For instance, if the cost of a cloud storage solution is too high, look towards some free alternatives that offer lots of storage space and the possibility to expand.

If you are worried about the security of your cloud account, there are lots you can do to keep your account safer, here is a list of the quickest fixes and the most simple solutions to keep your cloud account safe. If privacy is what keeps you from going in the cloud, keep in mind that these companies try very hard to keep the content of your account secure and away from other eyes. They use complex encryption algorithms to ensure that only you can access your account. Nevertheless, the US government has already made attempts on the privacy of its citizens, and even phone companies collect private information, so this fear is quite understandable.

Although many did not know what the cloud was, the outcome of this survey is still favorable, in the fact that the majority of Americans see the cloud as a good thing and as an advance in economy and technology. As vice president of corporate marketing at Citrix, Kim DeCarlis, pointed out:

“This survey clearly shows that the cloud phenomenon is taking root in our mainstream culture, yet there is still a wide gap between the perceptions and realities of cloud computing. “While significant market changes like this take time, the transition from the PC era to the cloud era is happening at a remarkable pace. The most important takeaway from this survey is that the cloud is viewed favorably by the majority of Americans, and when people learn more about the cloud they understand it can vastly improve the balance between their work and personal lives.”

For the naysayers, here is one hilarious video of a retired Indian government officer explaining Cloud computing (with English subtitles).

[Via] Citrix


I often wonder, where is technology heading? What do all of these advances mean for us and for our future? I sometimes miss the days when I didn’t know how to use a floppy disk, or how a computer CPU works, but now, until I find an answer to my questions, I’ll keep tracking these advances and show everything I find to those who share my interests.


  • arth1

    The cloud is so last year.

  • Rob

    smart people know that storms never cause internet outages?

  • Anonymous Angel

    That’ll be the same country where 82% of the population believe in angels. So, who’s surprised?

    • killnine83

      DING! Agreed.

  • http://techpp.com Raju

    Good point! But technically the storms caused data centers outage, and didn’t “interfere” with Cloud computing, per se.

    • cgimusic

      Well the apps and data in that data center became unavailable, it was caused by a storm, people who were using that data center for their cloud operations were pretty screwed. Seems fairly interfering to me.

      I think the survey shows that people are realistic about the limitations of cloud computing instead of thinking that data in the cloud could never get lost or become inaccessible.

      • http://techpp.com Raju

        I’d still say physical “destruction” is an extreme case. Interference is fairly subtle. Some people do think ‘cloud’ in cloud computing refers to the physical cloud. Things are about to change though.

  • Zactu

    “The survey carried out on 1000 adult americans…” There is the reason. Right there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/clay.dowling Clay Dowling

      And it showed that 51% of them understood about what cloud computing really is, unlike the authors of this study. There is no magic ‘cloud,’ just a lot of machines and network connections. Those will always be vulnerable to weather. As we’ve seen multiple times.

      So before you go throwing stones, consider that you are standing in a glass house.

      • http://techpp.com Raju

        They’re vulnerable to extreme weather conditions which causes “physical” harm to the datacentres. A simple stormy weather doesn’t affect cloud in any way.

  • ninja_sensei

    I wonder if the hurricane is interfering with anyone’s cloud computing experience? The average non-techie has no idea that the cloud is a worldwide redundant set of computing resources. They generally interact with a tiny subset of the cloud. So if you ask them “can weather disrupt the cloud”, their answer is yes. For example, if my Internet connection goes down due to weather and I cannot get to my email, then the weather has “disrupted the cloud”, at least from my limited viewpoint.

    In fact I would argue that it’s semantics. Weather has the ability to cause local perturbations in parts of the cloud. If that is the part of the cloud that I need at that moment, then weather has disrupted the cloud.

  • BeLitterate

    The internet is not the cloud. Facebook and twitter are not the cloud. Stop renaming things to flashy new jargon

    • killnine83

      Actually, the internet IS the most common usage of the term, “the cloud.” Any sort of proper computer network training refers to it as such, mostly because it’s difficult to predict how data will behave one it hits the internet (as far as what specific directions packets will take or even whether each packet will take the same direction) thanks to load balancing and redundant connections/servers.

      Cloud computing, in the most simple sense, refers to using a terminal to access data through the internet. Netflix, for instance, is practically a meta-cloud as the end user is streaming data from Netflix (offsite) which is actually housing it data with Amazon (offsite from Netflix proper).

      Aside from cutting out your physical connection to the internet, it is highly unlikely for stormy weather to interfere with the actual cloud service because of the amount of redundancy that goes into it.

      • braincloud

        The internet is A cloud, look at any block diagram circa 1999. “THE” cloud is usually a service offered by any of several providers that offer some form of coherent package. What exactly those services are is ambiguous (sometimes storage, sometimes compute, sometimes app specific). I hate the term “cloud” it’s brain damaged. You don’t sell clouds, you sell services that implement a feature. Regardless at least security and privacy ought to continue to be huge reasons not to use the cloud, unless it’s located in your own home/data center.

  • Craig

    The EC2 East region was knocked offline a few weeks ago by bad thunderstorms in Virginia. It took down Netflix and other major sites. So… I’d say stormy weather DOES affect the cloud. Those 51% that the article mocked were right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/clay.dowling Clay Dowling

    So enlighten me, what is this magic form of computing that doesn’t rely on power and network connections to physical machines? Until you resolve that problem, weather does indeed mess with cloud computing.

  • vatsal

    it seems that most of the adults in US have no idea what is cloud computing exactly , thats why they are telling this foolish thing.

  • Aman

    The video with the subtitles is pretty funny. But if you understand Hindi and understand that he was trying to explain the Cloud Computing concept to people that have never heard of it before, you’d realize that “rain” was a metaphor for interference and other security breaches that can and have happened with keeping data in the “clouds” so-to-speak. Still funny though, especially when you subtitle it.

  • beingwithoutreason

    Sounds like you’re making fun of Americans. The demographics of the survey takers is important. If they were all 15-25 year olds, the results would be quite different. It is disturbing that something so ubiquitous is not better understood. But it’s sort of like people who watch TV and microwaves…they use it everyday, but if you asked them how it works…very few could tell you.

  • beingwithoutreason

    The video was great. I think he was saying that he doesn’t think the cloud is reliable enough to be used for important government business that affects people’s daily lives.