When you work on the Cloud Platform team in a company like Citrix it’s easy to think that most people understand cloud computing. Citrix is built on a philosophy that employees should be able to work from any location on any device and access their work information via the cloud. And our group’s mission is to provide our customers with high-performing, scalable and reliable cloud computing environments.

So, it’s a bit of a surprise to find out that a new survey shows that a majority of Americans still don’t know what the cloud really is or how it works, even if they are on sites like Facebook or Soundcloud daily. When thirty-eight percent of respondents somewhat agree with the statement that “stormy weather could affect cloud computing” it shows we have work to do.

The survey also indicates that only 22 percent of respondents said they used the cloud “sometimes” – even if they were accessing files from their smart phones. However, that doesn’t mean people have a negative view of cloud computing. Fifty-nine percent of Americans believe the workplace of the future will exist entirely in the cloud. And our customers like Datapipe, Edmunds.com, IDC Frontier, Nokia Research and LogicWorks are proof that the cloud is not the future, it’s here today!

The survey showed that people think the cloud could both lower consumer costs and improve customer engagement. So while misperceptions linger there’s an opportunity to help people understand why the cloud is crucial to business success, both in the enterprise and elsewhere. Opportunity knocks.

Citrix has worked steadily to dispel the myths of cloud computing. But the survey shows we need to keep telling people that the cloud is secure, reliable and easy to understand. We also need to reinforce that any smart business plan for tech companies, service providers and other business includes cloud computing. And since the survey shows that people still have concerns about security and reliability we need to remind everyone of three important facts:

  • The cloud is safe: People doggedly hold on to on-premise software, despite overwhelming proof that the cloud is a much more secure data storehouse than old-school devices.
  • The cloud powers innovation: When employees can control their own work lives they feel empowered to take risks, think creatively and build business.
  • The cloud means simplicity: It’s a complicated world and the need to store data and move information for the enterprise grows exponentially each day. Switching businesses to a cloud model will streamline and simplify information technology, allowing people and businesses to focus on what’s important.

Whenever a new technology enters the mainstream it faces perception challenges. It was true for radio, television, the early versions of Internet, dot.com business and now the cloud. In the next year the cloud is poised to become an even larger part of both our work and personal lives. While the study shows that there is work to do it also hints that our economic future is bright – and includes the emerging world of cloud computing.