Shining a harsh light on cloud washing

For years I have been railing about cloud washing -- the efforts by vendors and, more recently, enterprise I&O professionals to give a cloud computing name to their business-as-usual IT services and virtualisation efforts. Now, a cloud...

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For years I have been railing about cloud washing -- the efforts by vendors and, more recently, enterprise I&O professionals to give a cloud computing name to their business-as-usual IT services and virtualisation efforts. Now, a cloud vendor, with tongue somewhat in cheek, is taking this rant to the next level.

Appirio, a cloud integration and customisation solution provider, has created the cloud computing equivalent of the Razzie Awards to recognise and call out those vendors it and its clients see as the most egregious cloud washing offenders. The first annual Washies will be announced next Wednesday night at The Cigar Bar in San Francisco, and in true Razzie tradition, the nominees are invited to attend and pick up their dubious honours in person. I'm betting that Larry Ellison will be otherwise engaged.

While some will be offended to be nominated, the recognition here is meant to be a bit of a roast to those marketing ahead of their capabilities as well as a fun way to help spread market education about what truly is (and is not) cloud computing. It's understandable why the vendors who cloud wash their solutions do it, as the word can get you a meeting with a key customer and that customer at the end of the day may turn out not to need cloud at all and thus end up buying that vendor's traditional IT solution.

Same with I&O pros. If calling your virtualised server environment cloud gets executive pressure off so you can better plan a real cloud strategy, mission accomplished. But this practice creates market confusion and can ultimately hurt the offender as their credibility takes a hit in comparison to true cloud efforts. I&O teams that claim private cloud for their VMware environment and aren't delivering self-service, cloud economics or automation risk losing the trust with their developers who may just turn up their noses at IT and go straight to the public cloud. Try selling them on your true private cloud after that.

As I pointed out in my 2012 cloud computing predictions, the window in which you can get away with cloud washing, is closing fast. The Washies help close this window by bringing such miscommunications out into the light.

Posted by James Staten