Cloud Confusion – What does cloud mean?

By December 9, 2015News

Does cloud mean being everything to everyone, but nothing to your customer?

What does cloud mean to the consumer? With all the hype and marketing around cloud, it is easy to see the difficulty in engaging the right customer with your unique product.   A quick #cloud search is real-time proof of this.  Right now I can see a hardware vendor, a consultancy offering to help me find the right cloud solution for me and I’m being asked if I want to be a cloud services re-seller. Apparently the type of services was beyond the 140 characters, but they got plenty of hashtags in there.

Fundamentally, I believe it comes down to terminology. If you had a cloud computing glossary, you wouldn’t be much better off, as everyone seems to have made their own definitions to suit their purpose.  There is even a large corporation that still believes it to be the same as virtualisation. Let’s look at some key terms that are used repeatedly, but with different purposes.

The biggest and worst offender is the word to describe the technology. Not because it refers to a meteorological phenomenon, but because the one term is used to describe every different format that involves elastic computing.  The issue starts with using the word as both the descriptor and the noun and the quote, for example, ‘it’s in the cloud’ or ‘we are using cloud computing’ are almost meaningless terms, unless you are talking to someone who is using cloud technology, or software in the same way you are.  What does cloud mean?  It is completely subjective and the problem with that is we forget that the person we are talking to can’t read our minds. It is this ambiguity around cloud that makes it difficult to start a conversation with the customer and vice versa.

Gas_cloud_on_Jupiter

Clouds on Jupiter are not the same as those on Earth

Assuming the client is uninitiated in the different ways that the cloud can be used, they have their own pre-conceived idea of what cloud mean, but how can they be sure they are talking to the right type of cloud business?

What does cloud mean to you?

For example, to my niece bought a smartphone with the smallest storage capacity, intending to buy more as she needs it.  To her the cloud has one purpose, to store her music and photos when her phone has run out of space.  She doesn’t realise, (or care), that her Facebook account is also run on cloud hardware, managed by cloud software, making it always and instantly available to her, even on New Year’s Eve.  I have to say that I could’ve chosen a university professor for this example, many people’s concept of the cloud is limited by their exposure to it.  I have met many successful business owners, who also think the cloud is a small icon in the top right corner of iTunes, or that it only refers to storage.

So, to a consumer, cloud refers to a flexible and easy way to edit their documents, on the move, or when they lose web connectivity. The things they touch and use every day and that make their life easier. However, to an e-commerce business the cloud is a way of ensuring that when the customer is ready to click-through to buy their product on Black Friday, there is plenty of capacity to accept the order as the services quickly scale up and out to accommodate their traffic and they don’t lose a sale.

To a hardware customer, the cloud is an appliance product for complex configuration by them.  To a datacentre the cloud is a way of optimising their hardware, ensuring that every component is providing the return on investment. To DevOps the cloud is the infrastructure their application needs writing for so their offering can compete, helping businesses engage with the consumer, or to manage the cloud hardware.

I could go on, the cloud is offered to the customer, client and consumer in every possible business, so why do I read articles and websites and tweets about cloud that don’t make it clear who the target audience is? Sometimes, despite many years in the industry, I even struggle to make sense of the product on offer. I implore you, check the industry definition and establish what type of cloud offering you want to discuss before you even begin a conversation with your customer and that means starting with the landing page to your website, because with the advent of the Internet of Things, your next customer is set to experience cloud in every format possible.

Why not evaluate our ScaleCloud landing page, or the product itself by visiting www.ScaleCloud.co.uk

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Tabitha Rawlinson
Director of Operations @ Innovate IT Ltd
As Director of Operations, not only is Tabitha responsible for the daily business logistics, but also has the additional responsibility for delivering the product development pipeline in line with the company’s technology road map and ensuring it meets with the customers’ future needs. No mean feat, but with 10 years experience in product development in the energy sector for a global corporation, she brings a wealth of experience. Tabitha has an honours degree in Chemistry from The University of Kent and a PhD in Polymer Chemistry from Reading University.