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Can we just shut up about cloud already?

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Ah, remember the good old days of cloud washing? That’s when vendors attached “cloud” to whatever service they had whether or not it was an accurate descriptor. The feeling was folks would buy Cloud Email Service when they wouldn’t buy Acme E-mail Service even if the two were exactly the same.

Well guess what? The bloom is off that rose and vendors might be well advised to drop the cloud label if they want to sell stuff. Dave Ohara, a GigaOM Research analyst and founder of GreenM3 sure thinks so, as he set forth in a recent blog post in which he recommends cloud erasing as a sales strategy.

The assumption that everyone is clamoring for cloud is wildly inaccurate, he wrote:

“To some the Cloud means it is not secure, it goes down, and it is not as good as legacy systems. Thanks to AWS(s amzn) outages, Clouds are perceived as not as reliable by many.  Microsoft(s msft), Google(s goog), and Twitter have had outages and the media jumps on it.  Cloud services like LinkedIn(s lnkd) have had security breaches.  Perception is reality.”

NSA’s PRISM-gate has also had a big impact. When it comes to cloud paranoia folks in the U.S. are playing catchup to Europeans who have always looked at cloud — or outsourcing in general — with suspicion, especially since the U.S. Patriot Act was enacted in 2001. The prospect of U.S. agencies perusing European citizens’ data was distasteful then and has only gotten worse since the NSA disclosures.

Some GigaOM reader comments show this resurging distrust of cloud. In response to Kevin Fitchard’s recent story on a possible cloud-based “personal assistant” from Microsoft , one commenter wrote: “Cloud based? No thanks.” Another chimed in with: “Because the concept of a cloud AI knowing a lot about human beings couldn’t possibly end in the destruction of all that we know and cherish.”

And if you scroll down the comments on Kevin’s Google Project Loon story you’ll see just how nervous the prospect of an all-knowing cloud provider is to many people.

So, in the face of this growing paranoia — and remember being paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you — Ohara has advice for vendors and IT pros: Stop saying cloud unless you’re sure your audience wants to hear it. Otherwise focus on what the service actually does, what value it provides and its advantages over the competition.

Seems so simple right? Too bad no one seems to be listening.

13 Responses to “Can we just shut up about cloud already?”

  1. Kannan Sreedhar

    I am extremely bullish on Cloud services as well. Cloud services will defintely take off with large enterprises as they look for ways to convert capital expenses to Operational costs. The key to cloud services is not about turning over one’s crown jewels (i.e. competitive date) to someone else for safekeeping but leveraging “compute” and “storage” resources on an “on-demand” basis.

    Data is no more secure in your own data center than in the cloud if there aren’t the appropriate security controls in place. So when you think of cloud, think of the specific use cases and the appropriate security requirements before determining if “cloud” is the appropriate implementation.

  2. Steve Smith

    While some legitimate points were brought up, the concerns about the cloud not being secure are exaggerated. We sell our solutions both in the cloud and on-premises, with cloud having a 2-1 advantage in sales. In Europe, it’s closer to 5-1. On-premises solutions have problems too, require a great deal of internal resource and cost, which is simply something many companies can no longer afford. While “Cloud” is not what we lead with when we talk about our solutions, it is an important driver in many of the sales we make.

    • Greg Knieriemen

      The facts simply don’t line up to this… Here’s a survey from earlier this year from a very reputable source:

      It found that 65 percent of respondents use or plan to use a private cloud. Forty-six percent of respondents use or plan to use a public cloud, and 19 percent use or plan to use a hybrid cloud. In addition, the private cloud seems to be growing at twice the pace of public and hybrid clouds.

      Two reasons for the popularity of private clouds are security and privacy. That is, despite the best efforts of cloud computing vendors, and increasing adoption of cloud computing in recent years, concerns about security (mentioned as “extremely or very inhibiting” by 70 percent of respondents), privacy (69 percent), uptime (62 percent), and control of data (61 percent) remain the most likely inhibitors to adopting cloud computing services and applications.

  3. Greg Knieriemen

    Good article… just a few of comments:

    “Cloud” is not just “Public Cloud” and this seems to be mixed up all the time. This is important because…

    The NSA issue is a VERY real concern, more so outside the US. The response isn’t anti-cloud, it’s anti-PUBLIC cloud. Every large company I’ve spoken to in the last 6 months is planning some level of PRIVATE cloud service delivery.

    Again, the response isn’t against “cloud” it’s against “public cloud”. I know it’s like beating a dead horse but eventually folks will make the distinction.

        • @Greg, am I to read into your comments of Public vs. Private that the due to recent NSA news of snooping that a Public cloud is not safe but a Private ( on premises ) cloud is? If so, this would be flawed thinking by our industry and Business leaders. The government has the same authority and means regardless if the network used to reach a cloud is the Internet or a private WAN… in the end the pipes whether public or private are provided by the same telcos. So a private cloud to address protection from the government as oppose to a public cloud doesn’t mean much if anything on this basis, unless it’s not accessed via a corporate WAN which we all know if you can afford a private cloud in all likelihood you have a WAN for employees to access it.

          Now, Public vs. Private or vise versa for other security/compliance and/or operational / business trade offs are a different matter I would agree but big brother is in the end like death & taxes – unavoidable ;)

  4. Chris Gianelloni

    I agree, completely.

    Having a few servers, that you pay for on a monthly basis, stored away in some data center, is not cloud. Don’t pretend that it is. It’s hosted servers.

    Just like your big data isn’t that big. If you’re not processing terabytes, your data is small. If you’re not into petabytes, you’re not big. You can probably do the same work with a traditional database and something like R, and you can probably do it cheaper.

    Just because everyone else is using a technology, good or not, doesn’t mean that it is good for YOU and YOUR NEEDS. Stop pretending like technology trends need to be followed blindly.

  5. Dave Fellows

    Interesting that IDC and Gartner numbers are still incredibly bullish on cloud.

    “$107 billion in 2017”
    “public IT cloud services will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.5%, five times that of the IT industry as a whole.”

    “50% Of Enterprises Use Hybrid Cloud By 2017”

    Sure, NSA isn’t helping matters but I don’t think folks were ever under any illusions regarding outages. I don’t believe security breaches were invented with the cloud either.