IT resellers' lack of knowledge when it comes to cloud computing could hinder their future business and leave them unable to help their customers, according to a new study.

Research from Opal suggests that 40 percent of resellers admit to a sense of "fear and confusion" when it comes to cloud computing and only one in ten of firms in the channel, admits to fully understanding the technology. Resellers were not in agreement on the most important elements of cloud deployment, either. (Twenty-three percent of respondents saw it as a network issue, with 16 percent chose security as the most important factor – rather worryingly, the most popular response from resellers was "Don't know".

The cloud represents an attractive business opportunity for resellers and systems integrators, given that 57 percent of the customer base admit to a degree of uncertainty, however the Opal research appears to indicate that the channel is not in a position to allay these concerns.

The main customer concerns, according to the survey, were security – cited by 36 percent of respondents – and the risk of downtime. One the flipside of this, 28 percent of the end user base cited the ability to host MS Office as the main appeal of the cloud, while 25 percent opted for hosted voice systems as the main driver.

Andy Hollingworth, director of wholesale for Opal, said: "Over the past 12 months our research has shown that one-in-five resellers have shrunk due to the challenging economic conditions. "Working with partners we are starting to change perceptions of cloud computing among end users who can see that with the right network infrastructure in place the huge benefits of cloud-based applications and storage can be realised."