General Cloud Computing Acceptance Not So Clear


The other night my father-in-law announced he’d ordered a new laptop computer.  Only after 3 years, his broke.  What followed was a conversation I suspect may sound familiar to you: 

“You know Michel, in the future you won’t need to buy a new computer—just a new screen.  The Cloud will be your computer.” 

“Pfff!  I hope not!  I would never trust my data to the Cloud.”

“Um, Michel, you trust your money to a bank, right?”

“Yes, but that’s because I have to.”

“You’re already using the Cloud for some things, whether you’re aware or not.”

“Perhaps, but I have several external hard drives and I use them to back up my data every few weeks.”

“Michel, is your data so much more precious than your money that you’d prefer to keep it ‘under your mattress?’”

Perhaps I’m surrounded by too much Cloud talk at work.  I figured the General Public would be fairly accepting of the direction the Cloud is taking.  But my father-in-law is an engineer and ex technical director of a pretty technical company, so I wasn’t expecting his reaction. 

Do we care? 

I find it curious that public acceptance does not correlate with the rate of progress for things Cloud-related, i.e. Saleforce’s announcement, legislative advancements around country-specific owned/controlled Clouds, etc.

If Human 1.0 theories hold true, I’d suspect this is because the hunters and gathers in us like to feel that we tangibly own and control stuff.  But have no fear; I’m sure we’ll find a creative way to feel psychologically and emotionally good about our data dominion.  And if we can’t?  Well then we’ll displace our control needs to another domain. 

What’s your take?  And what do your in-laws think about this Cloud business?  

Happy New Year to you! 



  • Feyzi Bagirov

    Like the blog mentiones, some of the cloud services has been accepted and used on daily basis activities- web based emails, video, pictures, megafile storages, backups, training, education. People used to the trust the brand (hotmail, gmail, youtube, etc). Commercially, some functions have been successfully outsourced to the cloud (CRM).
    The reason some people are still hesitant might be complexity/lack of understanding of the cloud – how the data is stored, where the servers are located, what jurisdiction will the data fall into, will you have to give up your data to the government of the country that hosts the server if required, or is it more like a bank Switzerland?
    The massive adoption will happen when corporate executives will give their sponsorship to the cloud transferring projects in their companies. When people will start doing their jobs in the cloud, they will start adopting cloud in their personal lives as well.

  • There are a few differences with trusting a bank with your cash and another company with your documents.
    1. Money is just numbers: it was difficult to trust banks with you hard earned cash, worries about robberies etc. put people off. But now we realise that banks are safer and transactions are so much easier now – the main reason is that we associate money now with purchasing credits instead of coins, notes and even gold. Purchasing credits are just numbers, nothing physical no intelligence either.
    2. Documents are your IP: documents on the other hand aren’t just numbers to us, they contain lots of important information and we generally don’t want anyone else to access them.
    3. Safe storage: banks have safes, vaults etc. both physical and now virtual – it’s been their business from the beginning. Corporate Cloud Computing companies don’t have a reputation for protecting other people’s IP, this will have to change.
    Perhaps cloud computing will take off when some companies specialise in vaulting your documents and become well known for their security whilst other companies will provide the on-line application on top…

  • Rahul V Suryadevara

    I think this is natural reaction we face with cloud based solutions. It takes a while before end users (late adapters of technology) to trust cloud. First of all, digital data is intangible property and adding to this, personal data is going to be somewhere in digital universe. ….Lot of doubts!!!

    However future appliances (like xPads ) and user interaction models will minimize need for data access and management operations. Users will be focusing on end results. The results thus produced may not be viewed in terms of just data rather in terms of value added information. (I guess the difference will be more vivid in near future

    Hence over a period of time when users realize that they are wasting time managing their data and also realize that their data is more risk prone when stored in Hard discs, gradual migration to cloud begins. Let us wait for the tipping point.

    One more defining factor is necessity to share this data. I keep my critical documents on cloud so that I can avoid carrying the hardware that stores data. I can access it anywhere – like I take money from any ATM accross the world. Once users feel the convenience of “data ATMs”, they will move to cloud comfortably.

  • Kate

    Thanks for your comments guys!

    @Feyzi: I agree with your point about once companies get more ‘cloudy’, consumers will. We haven’t spoken about the Facebook Factor though. This is a consumer cloud platform that constantly changes the privacy game, leaving lots of people uncomfortable. For people to trust their data and IP to the cloud, I think we need to see the Facebooks calm down and start making more reassuring moves. Maybe we’ll see new FBish platforms whereby people would rather pay for a service that is less willing to sellout for revenue. If the privacy and security rules are simple and stable, that would reassure many.

    @Jon: While I agree with you that IP can generate more value than money, let’s not forget the money is necessary for most people to pay the rent, buy food and clothe their children. I don’t want people accessing my documents/data/IP, but I also don’t want them accessing my money! In that way they’re of equal security importance to me.

    @Rahul: Yes, we don’t want to waste time backing up, worrying about storing stuff, but at the same time we need cloudy companies to prove to us that they can do it better than we can . They should be working hard to reassure us with facts and examples. I don’t see such outreach yet. Perhaps when this begins it will also help people feel more comfortable.

  • blah

    Oh, really, people should jump at it, eh?

    And do you have any reason for that? Because I see reasons to putting your money in a bank.

    Goddamn internet philosophers, the world would be so much better without you.

    It had nothing to do with attachment to tangible things (the data on your computer isn’t anymore tangible than on a cloud, retard) it’s about having access to what you need when you need it, without depending on a third party.

    What a retard.

  • Hi “blah”, thanks for your comment. Of course you cannot touch data. By being able to access it from your computer, you get the impression that you control it because it’s stored within your personal space. And what I think is that you can access and “control” it just as much from the cloud. With the cloud you’re free to access it from anyone’s computer anywhere, or your mobile device. More access options actually.