Rackspace’s recently published survey on Cloud Hosting tells us that Small
Businesses are unaware of the term compared to mid sized businesses. Before I
offer my take on this survey, I want to point out something else. When I read
the Read Write Web’s post on the topic, I felt that the article
wrongly paints a view that small businesses are unaware of the term Cloud
Computing itself while the actual survey asks about Cloud Hosting. Here is my
suggestion to bloggers. Already there is quite a bit of
confusion about the Cloud terminologies. Let us not confuse further by giving room
to more and more misunderstanding.
Having said that, let me jump into the results of the survey and offer my
take on that. As soon as I saw the survey document, I thought that the results
are a bit skewed due to the use of the term Cloud Hosting. I am sure small
businesses owners are consuming Cloud Computing, mostly in the name of SaaS. We
have to remember that most of the small business customers have their website
hosted in a shared hosting environment. Many of them don’t even need a dedicated
server to host their website. If these people are asked about Cloud Hosting,
they will, obviously, be unaware of the term and the technology. The very fact
that the survey results points to a higher number of people knowing/using Cloud
Hosting only confirms my suspicions about the survey.
In fact, CNET’s Dave Rosenberg points
out to the same.
Not too surprisingly, the majority of SMBs were not aware nor terribly
interested in "cloud hosting." I suspect some of this had to do with the use of
the term "cloud hosting" rather than an interest in moving toward hosted
applications and infrastructure. I would argue that questions about using "the
Cloud" versus "cloud hosting" would have come up with a different set of
Let us not get unduly worried about surveys that asks irrelevant questions to
small businesses. When they don’t even use a dedicated server, and are quite
content with shared hosting, why are they going to get excited about a highly
scalable, redundant infrastructure? However, if we broke down the terminology
and asked them if they use email systems like gmail or online calendar
applications or manage their tasks online or use invoicing tools like Freshbooks
or Zoho Invoice (disclaimer: Zoho is the sponsor of this blog but this is my
independent analysis), etc., we might end up getting better numbers in the survey.
Asking about infrastructure to small businesses makes very little sense to me.
Rather, I would be happy to check out a survey on SaaS conducted with a small
This doesn’t mean that I dispute the findings of the survey. In fact, a
company in India did a very informal survey with small businesses in India and
Asia Pacific. They also came up with miserable numbers like Rackspace survey. I do agree with the
analysis of RWW that the Cloud Computing is not a household name in the small
business segment. Here is my take on why it is the case.
- There is quite a bit of confusion on the very definition of the term Cloud
Computing. If you put 10 people with the knowledge of Cloud Computing in a room,
they will come up with 20+ definitions on Cloud Computing.
- Various approaches to the Cloud Computing taxonomy is another major reason for creating the confusion. The various IaaSes, SaaSes and PaaSes only adds to
- Even if we take the case of infrastructure environment, any company that
can set up a virtualization environment makes claims about being a cloud vendor.
- The Cloud era was preceded by the Web 2.0 era which already had quite
a bit of confusion in terms of conflicting terminologies.
- The fear mongering tactics of traditional software companies and the
deliberate attempts to confuse users with terms like Software + Service and Rich
Internet Applications are also a reason for slow adoption.
As long as cloud community itself has trouble settling the definitions and
taxonomy, it is going to be difficult to get small businesses embrace the
clouds. We need a clear message to entice them and make them jump into the Cloud
bandwagon. It is time for us to improve the signal to noise ratio in this field
and focus on helping small businesses understand how cloud computing will help