Majority Cloudy on ‘Cloud Computing’


Many Americans remain foggy about what cloud computing is and how it works, a survey found.




“Cloud computing” involves computer networks to store, access and share data from Internet-connected devices. Most respondents in a Wakefield Research survey of more than 1,000 American adults, however, believe the cloud is related to weather, while some referred to pillows, drugs and even toilet paper. The good news is that even those that don’t know exactly what the cloud is recognize its economic benefits and think the cloud is a catalyst for small-business growth.

Among the results:


  • 51% of respondents, including a majority of Millennials, believe stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing.
  • Nearly one-third see the cloud as a thing of the future, even though 97% actually use cloud services frequently by banking or shopping online, file-sharing and participating in social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • Three in five people (59%) 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.
  • 22% admit that they’ve pretended to know what the cloud is or how it works. Some of the false claims take place during work hours, with one-third of these respondents faking an understanding of the cloud in the office and another 14% doing so during a job interview. An additional 17% have pretended to know what the cloud was on a first date.
  • Younger Americans are most likely to pretend to know what the cloud is and how it works (36% of those age 18 to 29 and 18% of those age 30 and older), as are Americans in the West (28% West vs. 22% in the U.S.)
  • 56% of respondents say they think other people refer to cloud computing in conversation when they really don’t know what they are talking about.

When asked what “the cloud” is, a majority responded it’s either an actual cloud (specifically a “fluffy white thing”), the sky or something related to the weather (29%). Only 16% said they think of a computer network to store, access and share data from Internet-connected devices. Some of the other responses include: toilet paper, pillow, smoke, outer space, cyberspace, mysterious network, unreliable, security, sadness, relaxed, overused, “oh goody, a hacker’s dream,” storage, movies, money, memory, back-up, joy, innovation, drugs, heaven and a place to meet.


After learning more about the cloud, 68% recognize its economic benefits. The most recognized benefits are that the cloud helps consumers by lowering costs, spurs small-business growth and boosts customer engagement for businesses.
Among those who hardly ever or never use the cloud, the top three deterrents are cost, security concerns and privacy concerns.