Internet Users and the Cloud: What Do People Really Know? (Infographic)

Cloud Hosting Infographic

A look at this infographic on Internet trends among American adults underscores an interesting and perhaps unexpected fact about Internet users.

While the mass majority uses the cloud, most are unaware that they are employing cloud hosting networks. This infographic highlights the findings of two surveys of American Internet users, including the demographics of Internet users, their online activities, and how perceptions of cloud computing match actual use. It underscores a fascinating division between what people know about the cloud and how much of their online activities utilize the cloud.

51% Survey Respondents Believed That Stormy Weather Could Interfere Cloud Computing

The majority of American adults use the Internet to look something up on a search engine (91 percent), send or receive an email (91 percent), look up a hobby or interest (84 percent) or search for maps or driving directions (84 percent). An Internet user is also likely to check up-to-date weather forecasts on his or her device (81 percent), do online banking (61 percent) or upload photos for sharing (46 percent). Though many use these online services, most remain unaware that these online processes run on various cloud computing platforms – everything from online banking, shopping and photo sharing to the use of social networks and playing online games. In fact, 51 percent of respondents believed that stormy weather could interfere with cloud computing, perhaps envisioning it as an antenna that sways in the wind and rain rather than an elastic host service which uses the Internet.

The infographic reveals that low education levels are not the likely reason for this confusion, as the higher level of education one has achieved may lead to higher Internet use but does not lead to greater Internet understanding. For instance, only 61 percent of those surveyed without a high school diploma used the Internet regularly, while 80 percent of high school graduates and 97 percent of college graduates used the Internet regularly, though the majority could not articulate the connection between the cloud and the Internet.

Why People Can’t Get It?

The question remains why cloud computing and cloud hosting is a foreign concept for many when it is almost universally used. The answer can be found in the complexity of cloud computing itself and its varying definitions, as well as missing means of public education on the issue. For instance, there are numerous types of public cloud computing (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, to name a few) as well as various service models. Because of the varied uses of the cloud, from email to gaming and file sharing, it is difficult to come up with a definition which is both explanatory and clear and which encompasses all of the characteristics of cloud activity. Combining this with the vocabulary of servers, network attached storage and virtualization is more likely to lead to confusion than understanding.

Notwithstanding the barriers to understanding, this infographic highlights that even if people don’t understand the details of cloud hosting, they are certainly aware of its growing importance. With mobile devices like cell phones, laptop computers and tablet PCs on the rise, and stationary items such as the desktop on the decline, the mobility of information is becoming increasingly prized, and it is cloud hosting services which allow for the easy movement of information for daily Internet users.