Storm of Cloud Confusion Persists

View From the Cloud

Storm of Cloud Confusion Persists

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Cloud Computing  |  October 16, 2012

This article originally appeared in Cloud Computing Magazine Q4 2012

Recently, I covered a somewhat vexing cloud topic that I haven’t been able to shake since writing the article for last month. While the industry is caught up in this “storm” known as “cloud,” most Americans believe cloud computing is actually affected by inclement weather, according to recent research. If you were among those who saw this report, you may have been in as much as, if not more, disbelief than I.

According to the Wakefield Research survey of more than 1,000 American adults, which was commissioned by Citrix, while the cloud is widely used, it is still broadly misunderstood. In fact, 51 percent of respondents – which include a majority of Millennials – believe stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing.

In addition, nearly one third say they view the cloud as a “thing” of the future, yet 97 percent are actually using cloud services today via online shopping, banking, social networking and file sharing. Despite this confusion, three in five (59 percent) believe the “workplace of the future” will exist entirely in the cloud, which indicates people feel it’s time to figure out the cloud – or risk being left behind in their professional lives.

“We know that cloud isn’t actually a ‘thing,’ – it’s a metaphor,” Slate blogger Matthew Yglesias points out.

“The idea is that you’re using your computer [or phone or tablet] to access data and applications that are hosted remotely,” Yglesias concludes. “I have no idea why this particular ‘cloud’ metaphor was chosen, and it doesn’t make a ton of sense, but it all has nothing to do with clouds or the weather.”

Perhaps there are a lot of questions still unanswered, but by many accounts, 2012 was the year cloud moved past the hype phase into the adoption stage. However, in its annual Hype Cycle report, which was released in late summer, Gartner (News - Alert) says, “confusion remains the norm” about the cloud computing industry.

“Many misconceptions exist around potential benefits, pitfalls and, of course, cost savings. Cloud is often part of cost-cutting discussions, even though its ability to cut costs is not a given,” according to the Gartner report. “There are also many reasons to talk about the capabilities enabled by cloud computing: agility, speed and innovation. These are the potential benefits that can be overlooked if hype fatigue sets in.”

The true measurements of moving past the hype phase will be when IT teams begin to deploy business critical applications to the new cloud platforms and not just secondary and supporting applications. We explore cloud’s future in this issue’s cover story, “2013: The Next Frontier of Cloud,” (page 26).

As Cloudscaling’s CTO Randy Bias summarizes: “CIOs are beginning to see the need for an on-premise elastic infrastructure in addition to their virtualized infrastructure, but they don’t know how to get there.”

We hope this issue of Cloud Computing helps break the clouds hovering over the looming confusion, as 2013 looks to be a bright future for this thing known as “cloud.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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