There’s a problem with the technology that we’ve come to know as “cloud.”  The cloud is not what you think it is.  You see, every computer user assigns a definition to the technology they use and it doesn’t even have to be accurate.  It’s WHAT IT IS…to the user.  This can lead to confusion and miscommunication.  Since there is no ubiquitous definition for cloud, the term is used to describe many different services. 

Let’s look at it this way.  Consider the guy in your office who calls his computer, (the minitower chassis), the “hard drive.”  Or your mother-in-law who refers to her LCD monitor as “her computer.” That’s what a computer is to them.  This presents a challenge in IT, especially for something ambiguous – as the cloud.

This problem of misnomers isn’t limited to your everyday user; it extends into IT as well.  For example, when the discussion of disaster recovery is broached, you’d better lean in to understand whether you’re discussing data back-up or business continuity.  IT is notorious for using the two terms interchangeably (and for the record, they’re not the same).  In fact, they’re not even close.  If you work in IT, you’re expected to have the right language and definition for the cloud, but the truth is any definition goes.

Depending on who you talk with, cloud is Office 365; cloud is Dropbox; Mozy is cloud; iTunes is cloud; what about Salesforce.com or Workday; and how about online banking or social media.  Any app on your phone is the cloud.  For the more sophisticated IT guy or gal, you might define AWS as the cloud.  That’s all partly right, but it’s actually wrong.  The 19th century poet, John Godfrey Saxe wrote about this in the poem Blind Men and the Elephant, where every man describes the elephant as something else.

Allow me to explain in today’s terms.  Cloud is not a product or a place.  Although everyone, even IT, refers to it as such.  Cloud is a concept.  It’s a concept that’s being baked into every technology we consume and it’s becoming systematic in the way that the enterprise delivers IT services.  Read that again, cloud is a concept, a delivery method.  Why is there so much confusion around “cloud?”  It’s because it’s not what you think it is.

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