When you talk about cloud computing, evidently most Brits think you’re talking about playing Super Mario on your PC, trying to collect coins and knock turtles off. They don’t even know that they are spending time in the cloud, and certainly don’t see the benefits of using business software. At least that’s what Juniper Networks discovered when they surveyed about 2,000 “average consumers” in the U.K., learning that most Brits are blissfully unaware of the cloud they live in. Almost three-quarters — 73.2 percent — said that cloud technology has not made a difference in their lives. So what are the 72 percent of Brits that own smartphones doing? Just snapping pics? Even those they are storing somewhere. Turns out these chaps are in the cloud but are completely unaware of it. (I’m sure this is true everywhere, since this American writer living in Spain can’t find a way to explain her business to laypeople.) This all begs the question…

Is the cloud obsolete before it’s begun or just that stealthy?

“Consumers probably don’t care about the Cloud – but why should they? After all, we don’t really need to know how a service is being delivered, we just need to know what it costs and that we can access it online and on our mobiles.” This is how Ben Harris, the CEO of UK-based Decibel Insight visual data analytics software looks at it all. And he knows what he’s talking about since Decibel Insight is right in the mix of the cloudy all. Decibal isn’t just an app itself, but it helps other folks creating websites in this nebulous cloud to understand how their clients are interacting on their web properties. It helps websites increase performance and conversion rates by offering insight down to the decibel with heat maps and other tools used to follow real visitor interaction on their site. Maybe because he already has an insider’s knowledge of how little we all know, but Ben’s not all too worried about the lack of cloud cognizance, but thinks that as long as it works and solves clients needs, it’ll keep growing. Or maybe it’s just that it’s become so rapidly a part of our mainstream, we haven’t even noticed the work behind the scenes (or the clouds.) “The growth of mobile, apps and the Cloud happened simultaneously. While there was a brief novelty moment, consumers now treat it as the norm,” continued Ben, who thins that this is all further proof that life in the cloud is here to stay. “It’s testament to the seamless user experiences that Cloud technology enables that we don’t even know it’s there. It just works.” So how can we in the SaaS world sell the benefits of something most people haven’t heard of? “It’s only SaaS [software as a service] nerds like us that get consciously excited about how much easier it is for us to buy and integrate technology into our lives.” Hey! We’re not SaaS nerds! Oh wait, maybe we are… “The fact is, the term ‘cloud’ is primarily a B2B marketing buzz word. It has a broad definition which can mean all sorts of things to different people and therefore it’s actually fairly meaningless in its own right.” And according to the well-asked Quora Question “What exactly is cloud computing?,” even developers aren’t really sure. It has basically been deemed in the general sense as anything done on your computer, tablet, smartphone, etc that isn’t saved to your hard drive. More specifically in our nerdy SaaS world, it means mobile. It means no more downloaded legacy software but rather information accessed from anywhere, at anytime. I also really like Berkley’s definition: “Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics.”

5 Essential Characteristics of the Cloud

  1. On-Demand Self Service
  2. Broad Network Access
  3. Resource Pooling
  4. Rapid Elasticity
  5. Measured Service

what is Cloud Computing?

So what’s so great about the cloud?

Now, for the 31 percent of respondents who actually saw benefit in living in the cloud, their reasoning is first and foremost security. They believe that processing and backing up sensitive information is the best way to protect said info. About a fifth love the mobility of being able to access that info from different places and platforms, at work, at home, on the toilet. Of course, this breakdown changes as you go down in age. More than half the fearless under 24 crowd valued staying connected anytime, anywhere much more than security. So maybe it’s our job as SaaSy people to stop trying to introduce folks to the concept of the cloud and what exactly that means, but instead to turn the discussion to the security of it. (That’d be a great way to reach the other 97 percent of those 55 and up who think this cloud has no affects on their lives.) “In respect to data privacy, if you’re non-technical you’re more likely to subscribe to a service without giving it much thought,” admitted Ben. “So perhaps education shouldn’t be about the Cloud, but rather about the security measures that Cloud services should use to protect your data. If there was greater knowledge about this, consumers could check for certain trust marks as a prerequisite to signing up.” Sounds like a job for GetApp!

So, what do you think of this cloudy world we’re living in? How aware of you of the Cloud? Are you blown away or grounded by it?