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Bring on the cloud marketing stunts!

More companies are relying on gimmicks to convince cloud users that their products are necessary, but they're just fooling themselves.

Cloud is hot, so more cloud must be even hotter. That seems to be the thinking among some companies out there.

And despite some basic flaws in the assumption about where cloud is and what customers want, the new hotness seems to be brokering or being the man in the middle for users who are confused (hint: they're not that confused) about the multitude of cloud services.

For instance, and I don't blame them for trying, as everyone wants a piece of the cloud action these days, A-Frame Technology Assurance isn't fooling anyone with its new website that claims to match cloud computing buyers to sellers.

It's a marketing gimmick for A-Frame to sell more IT consulting services. Mess around with the website for a few minutes and you'll notice the same vendors crop up in multiple categories, whether they offer those services or not.

Rackspace Hosting and Savvis offer Infrastructure as a Service but not Platform as a Service (PaaS), yet they show up as a PaaS provider on A-Frame's site. The same handful of application providers show up in the cloud application bucket, even though there are hundreds of players offering Software as a Service. Tweak the drop down menus to include international providers of cloud services and the list of partners A-Frame has in its pocket gets even smaller.

If you're trying to figure out who the providers are in this market, the list won't help, as it's far from comprehensive. But the part that really caught my eye was A-Frame's insistence on likening's business model to the real estate market. Why it would want to do that right now, I have no idea.

It says's fees are based on a "cloud brokerage agreement" modeled after a standard realtor agreement and equal to one or two months of the cloud rental fee. No deal, no payday for, just like a realtor.

It willingly describes its business as "inspired by the real estate industry," which is kind of shocking. Anything inspired by the real estate industry should be given a wide berth after that industry's contribution to the current recession. When I think of the real estate market today I think of freezing assets, foreclosures, bank-owned properties and distressed sales.

That's not what is happening in the cloud computing market, which by all accounts is experiencing healthy growth. A-Frame should get itself a real cloud computing services integration business, which considering its expertise and management clout, it could easily do.

But even if A-Frame was offering a real cloud brokerage service, that would still be a bad idea. Check out Enomoly's SpotCloud brokerage service, which hasn't made a dent in the market even though it's been out there for over a year.

Jo Maitland is the Senior Executive Editor of Contact her at

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