IT Cloud Washing

With apologies to William Shakespeare, “Is a cloud by any other name still a cloud?” It’s a subject that’s been receiving national media attention recently as some manufacturers widen their cloud offerings and the established “cloud players” cry foul, claiming many of these new products are merely re-engineered technology that’s been around for years.  They call it “cloud washing.”

Let’s try to simplify things.  Shared access to software via the Internet is a cloud service.  Shared access to storage on third party servers is a cloud service.  TechTarget takes things a step further, saying that a true cloud service should also offer:

·      User self-provisioning

·      Pay-per-use billing

·      A multi-tenant architecture

·      Virtualized infrastructure

·      Linear scalability

The media has been warning us about the most egregious offenders.   “If it's about writing large checks for hardware and software that gets delivered to you and has to be managed by a human being, I am not sure how's that different from the same offerings that have been sold for the past 10-20 years,” say Adam Selipsky, Vice President of Amazon Web Services in a recent interview for The Economic Times.  “It seems like every hosting company is now a cloud hosting company and it seems every Internet service is now a cloud service just because it happens to be on the Internet.”

It’s a good point, made by someone with a very vested interest. But in reality, does all this cloud washing talk really make a difference?  We’d suggest that to the average business or healthcare customer the answer is, “who gives a cloud?”  If it lives in a place I can’t see and touch, if it costs less, if it’s secure, has high up time and reliability and I don’t have to run it, then you can call it cloud or sky, or whatever (….as a service!).

Shakespeare’s Juliet told her Romeo that, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” implying that what something is called does not necessarily affect what it really is.  For all those shouting about cloud washing, maybe they might want to just stop and smell the roses.