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A View of the Cloud from the NetSquared Community

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During the month of October, join TechSoup Canada and the TechSoup Global Network for our Cloud Computing Worldwide campaign. Check back throughout the month for blog posts, webinars, and dispatches from around the world on cloud computing for nonprofits, NGOs, and public libraries.

Cloud LogoThis is a communiqué on the current state of cloud adoption in TechSoup's NetSquared international community from Marc Manashil, Community Evangelist for NetSquared. His job is to understand the needs of the NetSquared community and ensure that our team delivers relevant programs and services to help our members around the world leverage technology for good. Marc has been conducting a survey this month of NetSquared members that includes some questions about cloud computing. You may have seen our recent blog piece called Help Shape the Future of NetSquared that describes our listening activities in the month of October. Here is Marc's communiqué:

I am excited to contribute to the Cloud Computing Worldwide campaign by sharing a perspective from NetSquared, an initiative of TechSoup Global that supports a network of people interested in the connection of technology and social good.

The NetSquared community consists of Local groups in 80+ cities worldwide that hold offline events for those interested in technology and social impact. Our diverse Local group members include representatives of nonprofit organizations, foundations, and government agencies as well as tech developers and designers, innovators, and social entrepreneurs. [Note: there are several local groups running in different cities in Canada - join one or start your own.]

NetSquared also sponsors a variety of other offline events like camps and challenges that enable participants to share ideas, learn from one another, and collaborate on projects. We also host an informative blog where you can learn about the latest innovations in tech-for-good, hear from thought leaders in the field, and follow industry-wide events and challenges.


NetSquared meetup in Adelaide, Australia (Photo courtesy of Connecting Up Australia)

Last Tuesday, NetSquared launched a major community survey to inform the future of our programming. As a part of this effort, we sent a special survey to our local organizers, including two questions about cloud computing. Although the survey is open until October 31, preliminary results revealed interesting observations about the state of cloud computing among our global constituents.

One of the questions asked respondents to comment on their familiarity with cloud computing, on the spectrum of knowing absolutely nothing to being advanced cloud users. The overwhelming majority of respondents so far (77%) described themselves as knowing a limited amount about cloud services through their use of simple applications like Gmail. This figure is particularly noteworthy if one considers that respondents consist of NetSquared organizers whose interest in technology is such that they not only participate in, but run NetSquared Local groups.

A second question asked respondents to describe what barriers prevent people from using cloud-based services. Here the responses varied somewhat. Broadband cost and availability were less of a concern, though most responses came from developed countries. Some respondents cited a lack of knowledge about cloud services and how to use them while others said that what they use already works, so they feel no need to change.

The preliminary results indicate a varying, but somewhat basic, level of awareness of cloud computing. At the same time, respondents did not seem to be in a hurry to take these tools to the next level either.

Philadelphia NetSquared organizer Ivan Boothe summed up his feelings about cloud computing this way:

I think most people are aware of what cloud computing can offer. I think when they don't use it, it's for appropriate reasons — they don't want their information held by a corporation, they don't want to be dependent on Internet access to get to their information, and they're concerned about the privacy rights they sign away when they use cloud computing. I think most people are making pretty good choices here, and I don't really like the idea of "convincing" them they need to use it more than they already are.

To check out the complete responses to our cloud questions or view the full results of our community and Local group organizer surveys, please visit the NetSquared blog on November 8th. In the meantime, I welcome your reactions here or via Twitter @MarcManashil.