Nebulous ‘cloud computing’ term baffles most Americans

Clouds over Seattle. Flickr photo via Dan Hershman

Geeks like us hear the words “cloud computing” almost every day, using it ourselves to explain a host of different online-based services.

But how do folks in the heartland or other less tech-savvy places feel about cloud computing? Well, there’s still a ways to go in terms of grasping the concept, if a new survey commissioned by Citrix is to be believed.

The national survey found that a majority of Americans — 54 percent — claim to never use cloud computing. However, 95 percent of that group actually did use a cloud-based service such as online banking, shopping, social networking or storing digital media.

Meanwhile, a majority of 1,006 respondents thought cloud computing was connected to the weather, and that stormy weather could interfere with cloud computing. (Actually, that’s not too far-fetched given the power outages at Amazon.com’s Virginia data center back in June, they may have a reason to believe this).

“These survey responses show there is a significant disconnect between what Americans know, what they pretend to know, and what they actually do when it comes to cloud computing,” the study said.

Our media partner, KING 5, took the results of the survey to the streets and asked Seattle residents what they think of cloud computing.

“I guess I feel like I’m still in a cloud if you’re talking about a cloud with a computer,” Deb Clark told KING 5.   “I have no idea what the cloud is.” (They obviously weren’t asking people near South Lake Union, Amazon.com’s HQ, or Redmond, home to Microsoft).

Joe Fryer’s full report here, which also includes interviews with Decide.com’s Shauna Causey and University of Washington computer science professor Bill Howe.

Hat tip to our media partner KING 5.

  • klrog

    If you are old enough to remember mainframe computing with a dumb terminal, that’s what cloud computing is. The terminals now aren’t as dumb and the mainframe is farther away, but the application you are using is on the mainframe, not on your computer.

  • http://twitter.com/avilay avilay

    Here is a blog that I wrote a few weeks ago on this exact same topic – to explain what is cloud computing in simple terms. http://t.co/EVBWgV1f

  • Guest

    I saw the video on KING 5 news. The report doesn’t make things more comprehensible: the first part of the “cloud” report conflates “cloud computing” (flexible data center scaling on shared resources) with “hosted services” (services hosted on a data center for one client alone).

    Gmail is not “cloud computing.” Facebook is not “cloud computing.” America’s education system is bad enough without this sort of misguided attempt at teaching a new term.

  • Scott

    It’s hard to fault average folks for failing to grasp the concept when pretty plainly most tech journalists are equally at sea with it.

  • redonkulous

    When it precipitates, we switch over to the ocean servers.