The Turkeys of Cloud: Cloud Washers

As we enter the Thanksgiving holiday, there is always a lot to be thankful for. Whether in our own lives, or in this industry we are part of, there’s quite a bit to reflect on and find happiness with.

Focusing specifically on this industry for a moment (we are a cloud blog, afterall) it’s hard, however much the good spirits and happy expectations of food might sway us to be nice, to excuse the turkey in the room in need of roasting: cloud washers. (Check out our CEO’s take on cloud washing, here).

So what is cloud washing, and why does it deserve such a lambasting? Well the best definition comes from SearchCloudStorage: “Cloud washing (also spelled cloudwashing) is the purposeful and sometimes deceptive attempt by a vendor to rebrand an old product or service by associating the buzzword “cloud” with it. ” So taking a step back from this, its easy to see why companies might want to do this. There is a great history of businesses reselling old products under new names. That in-and-of-itself is not a crime, though perhaps it isn’t always as honest as it should be.

So why is cloud washing so bad? Well for one it completely disregards the basic value components associated with cloud. One of the primary aspects that drives adoption of outsourced cloud is the technology is commoditized and the cloud provider is able to pass those savings along to the customer. This means that cloud washers are charging whatever fee they believe fits the need. This is hardly realizing the full cost potential related to cloud.

In other ways, cloud washers, while simulating cloud function, fall behind on delivery. Some companies use pretty robust ticketing systems to make the customer feel like they are receiving an ordered cloud instance (VM etc.) only to have someone on the back-end actually installing a server in a rack. Not only does this alter the cost profile, but it greatly increases the time to deployment, thwarting the cloud promise of instant provisioning of resources (in the public version).

Beyond this, because a rack is installed and the commodity cost savings are not passed through to the customer, businesses that are duped by cloud washers aren’t actually paying only for what they need. Hint: If a company is looking to charge a monthly minimum, they’re probably a cloud washer.

It’s not that the functionality, at least initially is impacted. If it didn’t seem cloudy, people would pick up on it too fast. But in situations like Superstorm Sandy the reliability of these pretenders can really damage a business, since they are not being run in the same way as a truly outsourced cloud infrastructure.

However, despite pointing out such flaws in the approach of the cloud washers, consumers will be motivated by whatever version best suits the needs of their business. And that’s OK, in the short term at least. Since business is increasingly moving toward the cloud, eventually the needs of a particular company will navigate them to a good provider, since the performance, cost and reliability aspects of cloud benefits will continue to evolve.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

By Jake Gardner

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