When cartoonist Scott Adams decides that cloudwashing has become too much to take, maybe it’s time to give this annoying practice the boot. Sooooo … what do you say Oracle, HP, IBM, Microsoft? Can we agree to put the mindless use of the C-word on ice?

photo: Flickr / Felix M. Cobos

When Dilbert takes aim at cloudwashing, maybe it is the beginning of the end for that annoying practice which threatens the credibility of tech companies.

Dilbert’s boss (he of the awesome two-point hairdo) tells Dilbert to move some of the company’s functions to the Internet but to call the Internet “cloud.”  Why? Because no one “will take us seriously unless we’re doing something in the cloud,” says Mr. Two-Points, aka PHB or Pointy-headed Boss. The remedy is to apply mindless jargon to what they’re already doing.  This has  been the practice of 95 percent of software companies for the past few years –put out an update and call it “cloud.”

Last year, Appirio inaugurated a “Cloudwashies” contest  to give the most shameless perpetrators of cloudwashing the dubious acknowledgement they so richly deserved. Oracle and its CEO Larry Ellison — whose miraculous “come-to-cloud” conversion made him the no brainer choice — were winners. So were Salesforce.com and Microsoft — for it’s beyond-irritating “to the cloud” ads. (InformationWeek has its own take here.)

Of course the best thing that’s been done on this topic remains The Onion’s “HP on that cloud thing that everyone is talking about.” Watch it now if you haven’t. Or even if you have.

As Flexiant founder Tony Lucas pointed out last week, and as Dilbert now reinforces,  it’s time for cloudwashing to stop. When Appirio announced the Cloudwashies, it said that the award would probably be a one-shot deal — the hope being that cloud madness would end soon. No word yet on whether the awards are in fact off for 2012, however there still seems to be a good bit of cloudwashing going on.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user Felix M. CobosCloudwashing art courtesy of Shutterstock user Brian A Jackson

  1. Glad to see it being called out, even comically, perhaps it will gain further attention now. :)

    As I put it in my presentation:

    Put Cloud in Product Name

    …is sadly still true for far too many companies.

    1. love the reference lol

  2. I work for one of these companies. We have always been a Software as a Service company, COMPLETELY internet based. Last year we added CLOUD everywhere, changed nothing, but now we are a Cloud Company.

  3. re-asserts what we all have been whispering for so long on looking at Cloud charts from sales guys…

  4. Encyclopedia of Clouds Monday, October 22, 2012

    Hey there “cloud” …

    “Who do you think you are Rambo?
    Or a cumulonimbus capillatus?
    Or a cirrus? Or an altostratus?
    Somebody to make somebody like me proud?
    In the encyclopedia of clouds. …”

  5. One quarter of the stories on the GigaOm front page have “Cloud” in them and the site has a section dedicated to Cloud. Plenty of blame to go around! ;-)

    1. guilty as charged, anon. Although hopefully **most** of our cloud stories are actually on cloud.

  6. Dilbert is always good about calling out jargon overuse. While the “cloud” is an important trend in computing, its overuse is now truly comical.

  7. Can we put a simple criteria that separates jargon from the real thing? such as 1) how fast you scale to the traffic 2) how transparent are system failures 3) how fast apps are developed 4) how easy is to monitor and configure. Please add more or modify to a simple criteria

    1. @vas: Sure, the criteria for cloud computing are the same as they always have been: on-demand provisioning, elasticity and consumption-based billing. The other things you mention (transparent failure, app dev agility, monitoring and configuration) are not unique to cloud computing and are not really defining elements.

  8. I love to blame marketers for this kind of thing, but a good deal of fault lies the other side. Cloud consumers (management folks mostly) haven’t really bothered to educate themselves on the terminology, giving the marketers license to abuse it with impunity.
    I suspect that once everyone has realized that cloud computing is simply a service delivery paradigm and not a technology, things will settle down nicely and we can get back to business. Scott Adams excels at taking the wind out of such pompous sails.


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