The IT term ‘cloud’ is still proving confusing for millions of people who search the internet for an explanation each month.
Keyword analysis on Google Adwords reveals every month 20.4 million people search the phrase ‘What is Cloud?’ and 1.5m of those searches are in the UK.
This continuing confusion may well be due to the marketing efforts of IT companies which claim anything remotely internet-related is a cloud service. The technical definition, given by Gartner, claims it is actually a style of computing in which ‘scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities’ are delivered as a service using internet technologies.
In simple terms, cloud computing is allowing companies to deploy technology, such as data storage or software, in the same way they run a tap. It can be turned up or down to provide more or less as required.
Unfortunately many IT companies who claim to be offering ‘cloud’ are describing it in terms that suit them as opposed to hosted, shared and on-demand resources. Indeed, many suppliers are not providing a ‘pay for what you use’ service – they are instead charging flat rates for simply hosting the technology.
This misrepresentation has created a confused and diluted understanding of cloud and its benefits, which is acting as a brake on wider adoption. This is particularly concerning as the EU has published a report claiming that if businesses utilise cloud services it could boost the region’s GDP by an additional €162bn by 2020 – but only if barriers to adoption are removed.
Icomm Technologies’, Ian Callens, who commissioned the Google research, said: “The term ‘cloud’ has been around for many years yet people still don’t truly understand it and our Google research demonstrates that. This is creating a barrier to adoption and better ways of provisioning IT.
“Put simply, the industry needs to come together to stamp out suppliers essentially mis-selling approaches that claim to be cloud-based. For example, charging flat rates for fixed storage vaults of 200GB, when the customer only uses 152GB, is not a true representation of a cloud offering; it doesn’t reflect the true customer-centric scaleability of a pay for what you need service.
“It creates misunderstanding and may deter UK companies from embracing cutting edge technologies, which can deliver competitive advantage.”
Companies that do not openly advertise where data is located are also creating further confusion and barriers to adoption. Questions were raised recently when computer services company 2e2, which almost folded, was found to be outsourcing large amounts of data it was managing to third parties.