Don't mention the C-word! Dealing with cloudist clients

frustrated man with steam coming out of his ears

Don't bother Googling for cloudism, it will only tell you that it's a religion based around clouds being the one true god and ginger people being the anti-cloud. However, I think I may have bumped into someone who fits an alternative definition of a cloudist, with cloudism being an irrational fear of cloud computing.

As is the case with many a cloudist, this particular chap is the owner of a business firmly ensconced at the smaller end of the enterprise scale. Equally as commonplace, it seems to me, he is also totally in denial: not of being cloudist, but in denial of the cloud itself. It has not, I was assured, changed the world of either technology nor that of business. It is not any kind of panacea to the kind of problems that limited resources bring (scaleability, mobility and administrative overhead to name but three), and it certainly isn't secure enough to even be on the adoption agenda for the foreseeable future.

Sounds like a concocted stereotype doesn't it? But this chap was all too real, operating a successful and rapidly expanding small business, yet thrown almost into an apoplectic state at the very mention of the C-word.

Indeed, when I did just that, and amongst the expletives, a number of words were vehemently spat in my direction such as trust, hype and snake oil. This guy was not just sceptical of the cloud, he was positively full of hate for it. Yet, and here's the thing, he didn't really know why; at least not beyond that display of rhetoric. Is there really a major problem with data security in the cloud? Do you really have to sacrifice control over your IT? Is the cloud, as a concept, really way too immature to be put into a real-world business setting? You are probably shouting no, No and NO at the screen in response, but shouting at a cloudist will do you no good. In your face factual responses have the effect, I have found, of simply making the bunker walls thicker for the cloud sceptic who assumes you have sold your soul to the ginger folk, so to speak.

There are two ways of grounding someone who preaches from the cloudism gospel, and the first is to engage them in a sensible debate that addresses their core fears. More often than not a cloudist is equally fearful of any technological change. The chap who kick-started this whole rant, for example, could easily have had 'if it ain't broke' tattooed on his forehead, given the ageing IT setup he wanted to squeeze every last drop of unrealistic value from. Yet his current data storage model was very broken indeed, his understanding of the advantages of anytime/anywhere computing sorely lacking and his encasement within a decade-old world-technological-view bubble complete.

By bringing the cloud into the real world, determining what cloud services the sceptic actually already uses (be it for business or pleasure) and exploring those business models, and by explaining how those models have evolved to become relevant to what the sceptic does will reap rewards. It's far harder to be sceptical about something that has already penetrated most every business sector, including competitors to the cloudist in question, when faced with the cold reality of its service delivery model. If the cloudist has got this far without his head exploding, then the chances are the debate is fully engaged. Which is where you can start allaying the fears and pin-pricking that bubble of denial I mentioned a while ago.

Did I mention two steps to ground a cloudist? You are probably wondering what the second one is then. Simple: just don't mention the C-word! If the sceptic feels more comfortable talking about managed and hosted services or server virtualisation then so be it. And this particular cloudist client of mine? He's still not cuddling the cloud pachyderm, but he is at least ready to admit that the elephant is in the boardroom.

Davey Winder

Davey is a three-decade veteran technology journalist specialising in cybersecurity and privacy matters and has been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue was published in 1994. He's also a Senior Contributor at Forbes, and co-founder of the Forbes Straight Talking Cyber video project that won the ‘Most Educational Content’ category at the 2021 European Cybersecurity Blogger Awards.

Davey has also picked up many other awards over the years, including the Security Serious ‘Cyber Writer of the Year’ title in 2020. As well as being the only three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) Davey was also named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro Magazine called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 he was honoured with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism which, thankfully, didn’t end his ongoing contributions - or his life for that matter.

You can follow Davey on Twitter @happygeek, or email him at