This article will look at marketing hype that fuels misconception of the cloud. To get there, we will first look at what the technology has in common with a particular berry that has been a source of great, unbridled, loopy excitement for those in the natural food industry. We will progress as follows:
- Ambiguity & Marketing Jargon – Superfruits
- Money Falling from the Sky: False Cloud Advertising
- Ridiculous Imagery
- Studies & Perspectives – Citrix, Microsoft & Oracle
- Right terminology for a Transparent Cloud
Ambiguity & Marketing Jargon – Superfruits
If you are in the world of natural health, you are probably familiar with the term “superfruit.” We should not be surprised to see the acai berry at the top of a list of superfruits. The pomegranate also recently experienced a surge of popularity when it was realized that it was not simply a fruit but possessed strange powers, as with these other impossibly healthy fruits.
The truth is that superfruit is a word that has been used in marketing and labeling but does not have a standardized definition used by science or government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (although many now consider the latter to be a front for the pharmaceutical industry, since it kind of is).
The basic problem with the concept of the superfruit is that it is ambiguous. Fruit and vegetable growers, distributors, and marketers are the ones who decide what fits into the category.
As a Wikipedia article on the topic humorously puts it, “The term superfruit is used liberally to include fruits having sparse scientific evidence for being ‘super’ other than being relatively unknown to common consumers.”
Sound anything like “the cloud”? It should.
Money Falling from the Sky: False Cloud Advertising
Tech people are typically smart and knowledgeable folks who can be easily annoyed by nonsense, hogwash, and “bulls$%t” (as it might be called in the funnies). In that spirit, Chris Magiet of IT tutorial company Pluralsite eviscerated the cloud marketing field in May 2013, pausing occasionally to dance on its entrails and sing a happy tune.
Chris argues that one of the main issues in terms of the presentation of cloud computing is the misuse of the terms that separate it into different categories – IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS (infrastructure, platform, and software “as-a-service”). He also noted that it’s unclear exactly what hybrid means. Furthermore, no one is quite sure where the data is located. All in all, “the cloud can mean confusion as often as it means effective, creative solutions.”
The first aspect of marketing with which Chris takes issue is stock photos, providing the following examples:
- Symbolic shapes formed by clouds in the sky, such as “www.”
- The word “Cloud” integrated into code.
- Personification of the cloud – with arms and legs (but no face, because the cloud doesn’t have any feelings).
- Loosely constructed diagrams that contain such bizarrely broad elements as “people,” “world,” “technology,” and “business,” with a cloud as backdrop.
- Dollars and coins falling out of the sky and into a tablet.
- A lady sitting on a cloud and looking out across a vast system in the sky.
- Sales guy sitting within an apish grin on his face, surrounded by a fantasyland of technological connectivity.
- Computer cords plugging directly into a cloud.
- Data falling like rain down into a PC.
Studies & Perspectives – Citrix, Microsoft & Oracle
Chris references an August 2012 survey by Citrix that polled 1000 consumers in the US to determine just how clueless we were about distributed virtualization at the time. The survey revealed that 51% of Internet users think that thunderstorms damage the reliability of the cloud, and that 95% of those who don’t think they use the cloud at all actually do.
It’s been a couple years, but certainly much of that confusion continues – in part, Chris argues, because of careless marketing strategies by firms wanting to attract customers with sexy solutions. He specifically fingers Microsoft for its fluffy mumbo-jumbo.
On the other side of the aisle is Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, who discusses the concept critically. Chris reports, “[Ellison] jokes that the cloud appeared one day when someone ran a Find & Replace command in Word to swap ‘Internet’ for ‘cloud,’ and then emailed it to a bunch of VCs.”
Right Terminology for a Transparent Cloud
Hey, dudes, cloud ain’t all bad. We just have to know what we mean. Chris references a humorous post on Everything SysAdmin that says cloud computing is a worthless term until you accurately define what type of service is being offered:
- SaaS – a website or application
- PaaS – a framework
- IaaS – a virtual machine
To conclude, this piece by Chris (although it appeared 18 months ago) hit close to home for us at Superb Internet. Just look at the language on our home page: “We take confusion out of the Cloud!”
Our customers appreciate our transparency: “Great customer service, dedication and expertise,” commented Stephan Mitchev. “Thank you for the great support!!”Plus, with Flex Cloud, you can start for free.
By Kent Roberts