Why the Public Still Doesn’t Fully Trust Cloud Computing (and What We Can Do)
Why the Public Still Doesn’t Fully Trust Cloud Computing (and What We Can Do)
There are thousands of apps that rely on cloud computing to store important information and files from their customers, but the general public still doesn’t fully trust the nature of the “cloud.” This can manifest in a number of ways. For example, a consumer with an iPhone might be reluctant to use Apple’s cloud backup services to backup their most important information. Or a business owner might be resistant to using cloud-based solutions in their line of work.
This may not seem like an impactful problem on the surface. After all, not adopting cloud solutions is an individual choice, that affects an individual’s data and efficiency first and foremost. But as the worlds of businesses and consumers become increasingly reliant on data and digital services, it’s going to be increasingly important for us to have convenient, cost-efficient tools to use on a regular basis. If those tools are inherently inefficient, or if we’re stuck working for a company that doesn’t have a cloud backup for its data, it will inevitably affect our lives.
Plus, if you’re in charge of developing or marketing cloud software, a fundamental resistance to cloud computing could shut down an entire section of the population from being interested in your product. Learning how to address and compensate for this resistance is imperative if you’re going to survive.
So why is it that so many people still don’t trust the cloud?
Problem: A Lack of Understanding of What the “Cloud” Is
First and most obviously, people generally have a poor understanding of what the “cloud” actually is. It’s become a handy buzzword to describe all manner of products and services that can be accessed from any device, but it has the negative side effect of seeming like magic. The word “cloud” gives people the false impression that, somehow, their data is being processed and stored in the air around them, to be retrieved by anyone who possesses a similar level of magic.
In reality, the cloud refers to services that run using the internet instead of relying on local software on a device. If your files are stored “in the cloud,” it really means that they’re being stored in a data center owned by the company whose services you’re paying for. You can access those files whenever you like, provided you have authorization to do so, but even if it looks like you’re accessing those files locally, you’ll be calling upon the information hosted in someone else’s data center.
Changing the imagery of the ethereal cloud to the concrete and silicon of a data center forces a company to lose a little bit of its luster—but it’s a much more realistic picture, and one that’s easier for people to wrap their minds around. If their big objection is a misunderstanding of what the cloud is, more accurate information may be able to resolve it.
Problem: Encryption and Prying Eyes
If someone does understand that their files are being stored on someone else’s hard drive (basically), they may worry about the level of encryption with which it’s being stored, or worry that someone else may be able to access the files.
This is a complicated problem because it does highlight some potential security issues with cloud storage. Most cloud service companies, like Google, offer a baseline level of encryption and protection for the data they store. For example, they might protect the data center physically with thick, fireproof walls, and encrypt the data they store to mitigate the possibility of a breach. Still, data breaches are notoriously common—and there’s no such thing as a system that’s wholly hack-proof.
On top of that, even the most secure cloud service could be compromised if the user’s authorization is compromised. For example, your stored files might be impregnable to a hacker trying to break in, but if that same hacker manages to obtain your username and password, they can get them anyway.
The key thing to remember here is that every system has inherent vulnerability; the files you keep in cloud storage could be accessed, just like files on a local hard drive, if someone were to obtain the right authorization to access it. You can protect yourself by securing additional encryption for your cloud services, and making sure to follow best practices when it comes to choosing, changing, and securing your passwords.
Problem: File Integrity and Accessibility
Data is becoming increasingly important, and that data can take many forms. It might be an important spreadsheet that keeps track of your company finances, a document that contains your trade secrets, or a CRM platform with details on all your most important clients. In any case, this is vital information, and people have a vested interest in guarding that information however they can.
More than just worrying about the possibility of those files being accessed by someone else through a hack or impersonation attempt, people sometimes desire an innate sense of possession and control over those files. You might have felt it yourself; you could feel more secure in the integrity and accessibility of your files when they’re on a flash drive that sits in your hand than when they’re only accessible online.
It’s hard to overcome this objection, but it’s certainly possible for worried business owners to store their cloud files on a physical, local hard drive in addition to being stored on the cloud. If the main concern is ensuring the files aren’t lost, redundancy is always a viable approach.
Problem: Consistency of Service
Some people hate the idea of relying on the cloud to access their most important services, since it requires an internet connection. Internet connections are ridiculously common these days; if you lose internet while working at home, you can probably use your smartphone as a hotspot or drive to a café or library and use theirs. But still, if your internet connection is unreliable, or if you suffer a neighborhood-wide outage, it could prevent you from using any of the apps you need to be productive, possibly wiping out a day of productivity.
If you have multiple ways to access the internet, as you should, this shouldn’t be an issue. But even if it is, most cloud platforms now offer offline versions that are temporarily available whenever the online version isn’t accessible.
Problem: Perception of Value
Technology trends tend to develop and solidify based on public perceptions of value. If customers see the benefits of a product or service, in excess of what they’d pay to get it, they’ll likely buy more of it, increasing demand and inspiring more developers to work on offering new products.
Cloud computing generated enough traction based on its buzzworthy name to support the development of thousands of diverse apps and services. However, there are still millions of consumers who don’t understand the real difference between cloud computing and locally hosted files and programs. The best way to tackle this point of resistance is head on, reiterating the true advantages of cloud services, including redundancy, security, accessibility, and in many cases, lower costs. If you crunch the numbers, you should be able to make an objective case for why the cloud version of an app is better than a locally hosted one.
It’s unlikely that we’ll be able to solve the trust problem in cloud computing in the next few years, especially since it’s such a complex and far-reaching problem. User adoption of popular cloud services is steadily rising, which is a good sign that consumers are warming up to the cloud, but to some degree, they can’t run away from it. If you’re trying to make an impact—whether it’s convincing your boss to switch to cloud services, or promote your own cloud software—keep these points of resistance in mind to make a more compelling argument, and help dispel some of the myths surrounding cloud computing.
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