Gartner: Cloud Computing Causing Confusion

A tough week for the cloud: Gartner says cloud computing is causing confusion. Larry Ellison calls it "complete gibberish," while Richard Stallman says its "worse than stupidity."

Rich Miller

September 29, 2008

2 Min Read
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Cloud computing is "creating a lot of confusion in the market," according to Gartner, which says dueling perceptions of cloud computing are muddling expectations about its benefits.

"The term cloud computing has come to mean two very different things: a broader use that focuses on 'cloud,' and a more-focused use on system infrastructure and virtualization," said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "Mixing the discussion of 'cloud-enabling technologies' with 'cloud computing services' creates confusion."

Gartner then offers its own view on what constitutes cloud computing, adding to an already lengthy list of dueling definitions.  The effort to define cloud computing has been underway in earnest since early 2008, and has been complicated by the breadth of the term's usage, and buzz-chasing marketers' willingness to sprinkle "cloud dust" over an even broader set of technologies and services. In the past week, it has become open season on "cloud computing."

Last week Oracle CEO Larry Ellison discussed the cloud confusion in colorful terms during a meeting with analysts. " I can’t think of anything that isn’t cloud computing with all of these announcements," Ellison said. "Maybe I’m an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It’s complete gibberish. It’s insane. When is this idiocy going to stop? We’ll make cloud computing announcements. I’m not going to fight this thing. But I don’t understand what we would do differently in the light of cloud computing other than change the wording of some of our ads. That’s my view.”

Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, also had tough talk for cloud computing. In an interview with the Guardian, Stallman described it as a tool for vendor lock-in. "It's stupidity. It's worse than stupidity: it's a marketing hype campaign," Stallman said. "Somebody is saying this is inevitable – and whenever you hear somebody saying that, it's very likely to be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true."

Is any of this criticism clarifying the confusion caused by cloud computing? Not really, but it's clear that the buzz around the term is giving way to a more critical assessment, which may raise the bar a bit for providers offering cloud computing in its many forms.

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