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Three cloud computing buzzwords I wish would go away

As a speaker at Interop NYC this past October, it was clear that the hype behind cloud computing still rages on, with no end in sight.

David S. Linthicum
David S. Linthicum, CTO and founder of Blue Mountain Labs

I guess most of us should not complain. Cloud computing is breathing new life into IT and IT services. However, the hype is causing confusion, most of which is self-inflicted.

To address that point, here are some cloud computing buzzwords that drive me crazy. I hear them over and over again, and they’re beginning to sound like fingers on a chalkboard. Allow me to spend this column protesting three such buzzwords. I'm sure most of you will want to rant along with me.

1. "Cloud enabled." Topping my list is "cloud enabled." What does this mean? Does it mean your application is able to run within a cloud? Or, perhaps it means taking advantage of native features of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) clouds, such as Web services or APIs? Maybe it means your IT environment is optimized for the elastic nature of cloud computing platforms, such as the ability to leverage auto-provisioning mechanisms? Typically, it's none of these.

Cloud-enabled applications, appliances, gizmos or other types of technology usually mean vendors that sell such applications, appliances or gizmos, etc.; they want to spin their products into the over-hyped world of cloud computing, but they didn’t want to put any work or money into it. By the same token, I'm "wealth enabled." I just need somebody to give me a few million dollars.

Those who use the term 'the cloud' think they are being hip and current, but they just cause more confusion.

2. "Open cloud." I've done some gentle pushback on the concept behind an "open cloud" -- namely that, while the source code is indeed open, you're typically locking yourself into an ecosystem. The correct buzzword here would be "kind-of-open cloud." I doubt that looks as good on a conference booth backdrop, but I would give the vendor credit for being more truthful.

I suspect that, like cloud enabled, open cloud will be the new politically correct buzzword du jour, following up on other similar buzzwords, such as "open systems" and "open source." Most IT pros, including me, did not make it through 2003 and 2004 without hearing those terms about 20 times a day, and I had to do some major private detective work to determine if the technologies were truly open. I suspect to see the same challenges with open cloud in the next few years, now that OpenStack and CloudStack are all the rage.

3. "The cloud." The term "cloud computing" is bad enough, in that it's too broadly defined and thus it's tough to determine what people really mean. Those who use the term "the cloud," typically those in IT, think they are being hip and current, but they just cause more confusion.

What does "the cloud" mean? At this point, it could be hundreds of things for most enterprises. Thus, when the cloud comes up in discussion with IT pros, I have to stop the conversation to define what it means, and typically find out one definition is very different from another in the very same room. Also, don't get me started on the phrase "to the cloud." When did uploading photos become cloud computing?

The emerging cloud computing space will find more ways to annoy me, I suspect, and will create new buzzwords that are both overused and nonsensical. I'll be sure to point them out to you.

David (Dave) S. Linthicum is the CTO and founder of Blue Mountain Labs, an internationally recognized industry expert and thought leader, and the author and co-author of 13 books on computing, including the best-selling Enterprise Application Integration. Dave keynotes at many leading technology conferences on cloud computing, SOA, enterprise application integration and enterprise architecture.

His latest book is Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise, a Step-by-Step Guide. Dave's industry experienceincludes tenures as CTO and CEO of several successful software companies and upper-level management positions in Fortune 100 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including the University of Virginia, Arizona State University and the University of Wisconsin.


This was first published in October 2012

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