Cloud computing has a PR problem. This is perhaps a strange claim given the thousands of emails received every month from PR agencies each loaded with claims and counter claims that their client’s cloud “solution” is the silver bullet to every CIO’s problems.

Claims by PR can and are immediately discounted as they hold no credibility, they are merely the call centre chatter of a marketing arm. But gather together some genuinely knowledgeable people who are adopting cloud computing, whose daily job is to both enable and protect the organisation and its customer information and the truth of the cloud PR failure becomes clear.

Last week CIO UK met with its readership to discuss the role of cloud computing under the Chatham House Rule. A wide range of CIOs were present from sectors such as manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, health, public sector, media services, business and financial services.

What was clear throughout the evening’s discussion is that the community of cloud providers has created an environment of confusion. A number of CIOs discussed how members of the leadership team question the veracity and security of cloud, yet are major adopters of Salesforce or cloud-based HR platforms.

I cannot help but wonder if the serried ranks of definitions for cloud – which dominated the debate just a year or so ago – have created this confusion.  

One thing I always notice when talking to transformational CIOs is that the train of thought and conversation is always about a business outcome. Perhaps the cloud provision community needs to focus more clearly on the business outcomes and less on dazzling claims. A consensus arose around the table that the cloud industry needed to change its messaging away from cost savings and claiming "their cloud is secure, but others are not" arose on Thursday night.

Security remains the greatest barrier to cloud computing and confusion caused by poor messaging cannot be helping overcome that hurdle.