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Would It Matter If Cloud Computing Had a Different Name?



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August 26, 2010 2:01 pm

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I read an article in ReadWriteWeb today called Weekly Poll: What Are The Top 5 Worst Terms in the World of the Cloud? with a mixture of amusement and annoyance. The article provides an introduction to the poll and the gist is that cloud computing is full of marketing jargon and RWW wants to know what cloud-related terms you like the least. Fair enough, I guess, as far as it goes, but among the terms up for consideration is ‘Cloud Computing’ itself. What would they prefer we call it and would a different name matter?

Marketers Can Get Out of Hand

I personally don’t have a problem with the name, although it does leave some people a bit confused. Marketers tend to go whole hog when they get their hands on a new concept. The Cloud in a Box idea (top of the list of nominees) is a good candidate for a bad term, but ‘Cloud Computing’ as a term, really?

We have to call it something. The idea of the cloud comes from the architectural picture we draw when we depict networked computing with a picture of a cloud. It’s not really that hard to see where the name came from. If you look at it that way, it’s actually more geeky than marketing, but when a word gets overused, people tend to go after it.

What Should We Call It

If we didn’t call it Cloud Computing, and it’s a bit late to change it, what could we call it that would be more palatable to people who find the term offensive? Here are some ideas:

* Utility Computing
* Shared Resource Computing
* Pay as you go Computing
* Service-oriented Computing

A Rose by Any Other Name

The article goes on to quote Newsgator’s Brian Kellner, who goes off on a bit of rant about Cloud Computing as a term. Kellner is a well-known and respected technology executive, but I think he gets it wrong here. I don’t think it’s all that hard to understand that each of the scenarios he outlines all fall under the umbrella of cloud computing.

RWW author Alex Williams calls ‘Cloud Computing’ “the vaguest, abused, misused term of the year.” Of course, I cover this sector, so I get what it is, but if you read about it and study it, the term becomes clear enough and has actual meaning.

In the end, we’ve given it a name and people are beginning to understand what it means conceptually when we use that term. To change it now, would only cause more confusion, so let’s just agree that Cloud Computing will have to do and call it a day.

Would you use a different name for Cloud Computing? What would you call it?

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6 Comments

  1. By:FlyingGuy

    Can Marketers get out of hand? Why not just call it Marketing 2.0!

    The problem is not with the name. the problem is with all the sales weenies trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear. err sorta. The thing is that NOTHING has changed since the first company rented out time and storage on a mainframe. S&M folks are trying their level best to re-wrap, re-image smf re-sell something that had died a long time ago.

    We got into PC’s because our source of applications and data were completely under the control of a very few people. Those guys with the pocket protectors, short sleeve dress shirts and bow ties were between us and what we wanted to do. If we wanted changes or something new we had to describe it, classify it, justify it, fund it and finally get it approved by so many levels of management that by the time we did get it we didn’t need it anymore. After I got out of the military and working with computers that had core memory and a knob with which you could very the clock speed, the Compaq DeskPro 286 was a breath of fresh air so I know of what I speak.

    At one time I used the acronym of DUTS ( Dial Up Time Share ). Not very sexy, it don’t sizzle, it just says what the product was, you pay for your applications to run on and your data to be stored on someone elses computer.

    I think I started using the term “through the cloud” to describe to clients how we could WAN their systems together about 5 years ago. Like you said, it was easy to draw a picture of a cloud on the white board to explain the flow of the information.

    So really no matter, call it CLOUD computing or DUTS computing it won’t make a difference. What will make a difference is to strangle a few of the S&M folks to within an inch of their lives to get them to change their message to what this really is and that is nothing less then going back to the days of your applications and your data being on someone else’s computer(s) and anything other then what they provide will cost you big $$$ in programming fees.

    If you doubt this simply talk with anyone who uses SalesFource and they will tell you, custom programming outside of the generic tools they provide costs big bucks.

    • By:rsmiller510

      I know that you are hell bent on making the comparison that Cloud Computing and Mainframe time sharing are the same. While I agree they have some similarities, I think it’s actually a lot different and I will elaborate on this in a future post. Watch for it.

      Thanks for your comments.
      Ron

      • By:FlyingGuy

        My suspicion is that your arguments will be largely semantic, to whit:

        Do your accounting in the “cloud” or said another way, rent processing time and data storage from Intuit!.

        Do your word processing / spreadsheets in the “cloud” or said another way, rent processing time and data storage from Google or Microsoft.

        Do your sales lead tracking in the “cloud” or said another way, rent processing time and data storage from SalesForce.

        There is no substantial difference.

        Want to “roll your own app”? and have it in the “cloud” rent processing time and data storage from Amazon, Rackspace or whatever other company builds a server farm and declares, “HEY we are the cloud now ba-be!!!!

        It will be interesting to see what you come up with.

        - Till then

      • By:rsmiller510

        I guess I don’t have to write it then. You’ve done all the work for me. :-)

        Perhaps you’ll find it semantic no matter what I do, but I’ll give it a shot and see.

        Thanks for your comments, regardless.

        Ron

  2. By:MHGlenn

    Oh, how about time sharing?
    That’s what it was called back in the 1970s, before the marketing droids “discovered” it. . . .

  3. By:MHGlenn

    …Perhaps “Distributed Services,” or something like that. I dunno….

    Anyway, I was at CompuServe in the mid- to late seventies, and saw the harbinger of the end of time sharing (TS). It was this little thing called a “microcomputer” that some of our customers had picked-up, and around 1978 or so, we’d even set up a service for the cute little things we called “MicroNet.” Little did we know.

    Anyway, the reason TS existed in the first place was because, once upon a time, both computational hardware and the expertise to keep it running was fabulously expensive, so it made for a good business case to farm it out to someone who could keep the effective costs down by spreading them out over multiple clients. The microcomputer, later to be known as the PC after IBM hit the scene (like a nuke), eroded that business case when they quickly picked up enough capacity to handle locally the then-modest amount of data most customers had to deal with. As it grew larger, that same data exacerbated the situation by taking ever longer amounts of time to be pulled over the pitifully slow data lines of that era that all but a few had access to. Time sharing was abandoned by its customers, and the centers folded.

    Now, let’s fast-forward several decades. That handful of megabytes of company data has become terabytes, and the problem of scalability is really starting to bite. To move that data around those little PCs have gone from “Sneaker Net,” to peer-to-peer, to server-based, and those server farms are getting bigger and bigger. So big, in fact, that anymore you spend more of your time worrying about the supporting infrastructure than you do about the stuff that does the work. This was stressful enough, but then came Big Brother and all those lovely, lovely acronyms that most of have come to know and loathe.

    The hardware is still pretty darned cheap, but the effective operational costs (power, HVAC, security, disaster readiness, expert personnel, etc) are beginning to hit that “fabulous” level once more. Now add easy access to high-speed data lines, and that old, 1970′s-era business case starts looking good again. There’s still a lot of items that need to be addressed (like the “pinhead on a backhoe” scenario) and re-learned (like standardized security screenings for data center personnel), but if it looks like there will be enough money in the concept, those problems will be handled.

    Now if you’ll excuse me; it’s going to be another scorcher of a day today, and I need to go stress-out over my HVAC systems.

    PS: I suspect the most successful model for a new TS operation (I refuse to call it “cloud computing!” I’m a IT guy, not some pinstriped Harvard Boy twit!) will be a tiered/ala-carte approach. Startups and Mom&Pop operations will have vastly different needs than will mature IT operations, of course, so service offerings will need to range from the Intuit “green means go” model to blank VM slots with floating preallocated resources residing upon a System z.

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