Cloud Washing 101: How to Determine if a Solution is Truly Cloud-Based

Cloud computing is all the rage, revolutionizing computing as we know it. For hardware and software manufacturers, this means they must find a way to keep up with the growing trend toward cloud hosting…or risk being left behind.

As a result, many vendors are labeling their solutions as “cloud-based” without altering anything about that offering. Some vendors are changing a few things, but is it enough?

Brainwashing in the Cloud

Since the word “cloud” is the buzzword of the decade, some feel that business are trying to entice consumers into buying their products by labeling them as cloud-based. A new term, “cloud washing” has emerged as a result, taking a play on the word “brainwashing.” Consumers are being warned about the practice so that they can ensure they truly are getting something new if they choose to invest in a new product.

Most official definitions of cloud computing distinguish it as a service that is accessed over the internet. However, many software vendors have taken liberties with this, defining any product that is available online as “cloud-based.” If a software’s download resides on a website, for instance, the company may call itself cloud-based in order to seem progressive.

Blurred Lines

One example of the blurring of lines is Adobe’s Creative Cloud, where users are required to download software to use the products. Documents can be saved in the cloud, however, and downloads will be managed from Adobe’s servers. This new model allows Adobe to control licensing from its own servers. In large part, the Adobe Creative Cloud is cloud-based, but a user won’t be able to access and work with his Adobe files online, using any device. Microsoft’s Office 365 employs a similar type of cloud-local hybrid.

In upcoming years, look for the term “cloud” to disappear as online storage becomes the norm. In the meantime, it’s important that consumers understand when a piece of software is truly cloud-based to avoid being cloud washed.