Gmail, Dropbox and iTunes? What do you mean they're cloud

Opinion Davey Winder Feb 18, 2013

What's worse? Ignorance about cloud ROI or acceptance that Gmail and Dropbox are cloud services?

So, according to some newly-published research coming from the direction of Webfusion, the average American is pretty clueless when it comes to 'getting' the cloud compared to the average Brit. Only 25 percent of Americans really understood what the cloud was, yet 34 percent of the British public were on the money as far as defining the cloud was concerned.

Apparently, and with absolutely no hint of surprise from my direction, 25-34 year olds pretty universally get it best, but my eyebrows did rise a tad when I saw that 63 percent of people don't recognise iTunes, Dropbox or even Gmail as being cloud-based services.

The most revealing statistic to drop out of this report, well reports actually as there was one for the US market and another which covered the UK, was the one that reveals 91 percent of Americans and 84 percent of us Brits have no idea that scalable hosting is the cloud.

63 percent of people don't recognise iTunes, Dropbox or even Gmail as being cloud-based services

Forget the whole 'we know more about the cloud than you' jibing that is going on, at least in the accompanying press release, that's besides the point. The point which is, if you think about it, that the cloud may well be taking off but until and unless more people understand what it is and why that is some very real problems with effective migration will remain.

Not least, I imagine, with convincing the late adopters to adopt at all. Taking another bit of research into consideration, this time from managed service provider (MSP) Claranet, which determined only a measly 20 percent of those businesses asked thought that calculating return on investment was a primary supporting factor for cloud migration.

Sure, there are other considerations that have to be taken into account and can be used to press the case for a move into the cloud, but in recessionary times surely stone cold cloudonomics must be at the fore?

And what is cloudonomics? Well, it certainly means more than simply predicting cloud adoption ROI against the likely cost savings made by the IT department. Which is a shame, as that's what 93 percent of the organisations that had adopted cloud services told Vanson Bourne when it compiled The ROI for Adopting Cloud report for Claranet. Bear in mind that the 250 'senior IT decision makers' polled for this came from a cross-section of SMBs, large enterprises and public sector organisations so this is not just a problem impacting one sector. 

What worries me is that only 55 percent factored the wider cloud benefit of better business performance into the ROI prediction. Employee productivity was only considered by 49 percent! Until those responsible for putting forward the business case for the cloud really get to grips with what the cloud is and how it works; until they grasp that efficiency, flexibility and productivity all need to be rolled into the ROI calculations; until that becomes a reality then the likelihood of cloud growth continuing on an upward curve has to be questioned. Not least because if these basics of cloud economics are not being factored into the ROI calculations when determining whether to migrate or not, you have to assume that they won't be present in any post-migratory cloud ROI figures either. And if the stats start pouring out that, actually, the ROI wasn't as great as was expected then that's only going to serve as yet another reason to put off making the move... 

Davey Winder

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Davey Winder has been covering the IT security beat for the last 20 years. Along the way he has won the 'Information Security Journalist of the Year' title no less than three times, and in 2011 was bestowed with the Enigma award for his lifelong contribution to information security journalism.