The funny part is that many of these vendors are in totally different categories, selling totally different products. So why is it that everything under the sun, no pun intended , seems to be getting lumped under the cloud computing umbrella, ok, pun intended this time .
It’s Not Just Evolving IT Terms
One thought is that it’s just the regular evolution of an IT term. While there’s definitely something to that, it doesn’t explain the whole issue. It’s true that newer terms tend to evolve quickly, but the definition of cloud computing has more breadth and more variability than nearly every other term in the IT lexicon.
It’s a Broad Paradigm
The reality is that Cloud Computing represents a very broad paradigm that encompasses both new technologies, as well as exiting technologies that are being relabeled as cloud.
And the “real” reality is that Cloud Computing is a hot term, so every vendor that has a solution that can be called a Cloud Computing solution is glomming onto it. One definition of the Cloud is storing information and/or applications in a location that can be accessed from any other location. Woah! That’s a pretty broad definition, and that’s why so many technologies can fall into this:
- Email - Gmail and hosted Outlook
- File Sharing – Dropbox, Box, Sugarsync, Google Docs
- Hosted Desktops – Virtual Desktops hosted internally or externally
- Infrastructure - Hosted servers (especially ones configurable on demand)
- Cloud Security – Security solutions designed for the above applications
- Smartphones - They tend to store very little and access things in the cloud
- Tablets - Same as above
- Music Sharing – Amazon MP3 Cloud, Apple iCloud
- Photo Sharing – Google Picassa
- Social Networking – Facebook, Twitter
- and the list goes on…
What’s really funny is that a lot of the things on the list above existed even before he term cloud did. But now they are being re-branded and re-positioned (this part is key) to fit into the cloud story. The re-positioning is important because people are doing a bit more than just re-branding – they are demonstrating more of a story with supporting use cases on how these tools fit into the new cloud paradigm – supporting the anytime, anywhere access scenario.
So what’s an IT professional to do? Perhaps the best thing to do is to just look past the word “Cloud” and focus on the use cases.
And IT vendors? Since everyone else is using the term, there’s no need to exclude yourself, but it’ll be to your benefit to really explain what you do and why it’s different – which, by the way, is great advice regardless of whether it’s cloudy or not.