Recently a journalist contacted me to talk about a company she was covering. Since I never interacted with the vendor, I told her that I can talk about general trends in the market segment rather than anything specific about the vendor. I then checked the vendor’s website which claims to be a cloud services company. From the website I figured out that they are selling whitelabeled infrastructure, colocation and managed hosting. I didn’t see any signs of cloud services except a web page talking about cloud computing 101. In my book, this is a perfect case of cloud washing.
Even though cloud puritans don’t like the NIST definition of cloud computing, I am ok with considering NIST definition as a good starting point and not bible (or Quran or Gita or whatever religious text you want to have here). NIST definition keeps on demand self service as one of the core attributes of the cloud. If you are a cloud services provider and I couldn’t find a way to test out your cloud through your website, then it is not cloud. Period. I do agree that not every organization want the pay as you go model but if the term cloud services is to be used, it is critical that the self service requirement is satisfied. Asking the end users to call the vendor’s sales team IS NOT SELF SERVICE. Any vendor who uses the cloud term without self service option is just cloud washing their offerings. Period.
A vendor could be offering the software for private cloud or even offer hosted private cloud without the self service option. I am ok with it because there is no point in offering the self service option for a single tenant private cloud (though IT may decide to offer the self service option to their users). However, the requirement for self service through the website becomes a critical factor for any vendor offering public cloud services. Also, unless it is a public cloud offering, it is pointless for a vendor to call themselves a cloud services provider. I just hope pundits in the industry understand this requirement in the cloud definition and call out vendors who are cloud washing their offerings. Though this might have negative impact in short term, it is good for the industry in the longer term.
Yup, it is a Friday rant but I am open to hearing counter opinions. Feel free to jump into a discussion in the comments section or on Twitter by responding to me @krishnan.