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Will the Cloud Be Defined by Marketing?

As I was watching TV the other night, a commercial caught my attention. It featured a woman trying to get one good picture of her family. She had several pictures on her computer, but each picture had one issue or another--a teenager texting, younger kids rough-housing and so on. Finally, she proclaimed, "To the Cloud." Then she took pieces from each of the imperfect pictures to create the perfect picture of her family. The mom then said, satisfied, "Windows gives me the family nature never could."

The cloud can do that?

This commercial got me thinking...how will the cloud be defined? In the virtualization community, there are general rules for what is and isn't cloud. There's private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud etc. Many of these definitions are very technical and are understood only by the people who understand the underlying technology. And even within the virtualization community, there's still debate on what defines public and private.

But what if marketing defines the cloud?

I doubt anyone will argue that Microsoft is a great marketer. But with its massive advertising budget, and by targeting consumers during prime-time television, will Microsoft end up "defining" the cloud after all? I'm sure this will upset many people and will spark another debate about how the cloud is defined. But, before you get all upset by definitions, consider perception and reality. Because, while the underlying reality of cloud computing is mired in technical definitions, the perception of cloud computing (as Microsoft is marketing it) is that it will make your life more enjoyable and easier.

Obviously Microsoft is marketing to the consumer in these commercials, not businesses. But, by using the term "cloud" in consumer marketing, will this end up driving a new definition of cloud as defined by the perception of consumers, not the reality of businesses? If you tell your neighbor that you're a cloud architect, will he think you're creating a secure data center for hosting various workloads or will he think you work for Microsoft and help moms edit pictures?

So, will the cloud be defined by marketing? When was the last time your mom helped write an RFC? When was the last time your mom watched TV?

Posted by Doug Hazelman on 11/18/2010 at 12:49 PM


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