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6 Warning Signs of Cloud Washing

Utilizing the cloud has become a normal part of business and professional life, especially for big companies. Whether they handle technology, sensitive information or just cooking recipes, the cloud is too useful to simply skip over for a modern business. However, choosing a cloud to fit your needs can be a little tough, not to mention pricey.

Competitors exist for every format, including the very cloud itself. In this case, however, you'll get a knock-off version referred to as cloud washing since these models take all the good things about the cloud and wash them out.

Choosing the cloud for your business shouldn't feel so difficult, complicated or easily confusing. To avoid this simple trap, you have to know how to identify cloud washing and take steps to avoid the practice at all costs.

What Is Cloud Washing?

Cloud washing, sometimes written as cloudwashing, means to take legacy software and run it as if it were on a cloud instance. Legacy software refers to computing systems that are out of date, so your legacy cloud won't be compatible with all your new software or have all the features you could have gotten otherwise. Most cloud washing techniques include a vendor hosting their existing packaged software and calling this a cloud because they're in a virtualized data center.

While the actual cloud often works as a service, whether it be software, platform or infrastructure, cloud washing does nothing as a service and gives out products. Since the term cloud is used so widely, many people get fooled into thinking they'll get an actual cloud service, or worse, that cloud washing is the cloud.

There are some signs to tell if you're getting cloud washing or the cloud. If they have a lot of server prerequisites, remote application software and complex requirements to enable other applications, then you could get in a trap. Getting out is as easy as changing providers, but finding the right ones in the first place is tricky.

Signs to Help Avoid Cloud Washing

Other signs of cloud washing are not as obvious or easily determined. You can still check to make sure if you have initial doubts, but these may take a little effort to uncover.

1.       If the other customers run customized applications, then they might be in on the cloud washing.

2.       Many issues will come down to money, such as requiring you to purchase a special cloud server to run their version of the cloud or providing a complex pricing structure.

3.       Time will also turn into a problem. If their audits aren't planned out, applications take years to update or their systems take more than a few seconds to add new users, then it's most likely a case of cloud washing.

4.       Referring to applications as cloud-based when they have to run on a browser might as well be a flashing neon sign.

5.       No unification among applications, such as security or inconsistent interfacing across devices is further proof of not being a cloud.

6.       If what they're trying to market really is the cloud, then they won't have to market very hard. If they overuse the term cloud, have indecipherable jargon or push their service without showing prices immediately, then they're also likely not a cloud. A real cloud service won't have to sell you their product except against other competition.

Cloud Washing Versus Cloud Native

Cloud native is the term for an actual cloud, but it's more precise. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) differentiates this from cloud washing by defining cloud native as having three service models and four types of deployment. The three models include software-as-a-service or SaaS, platform-as-a-service, or PaaS, and infrastructure-as-a-service, or IaaS. The deployment types are private, public, community and hybrid.

Thanks to the NIST's specific definition, catching cloud washing is much easier. However, actual cloud natives can still get caught in the crossfire. So long as they're configurable and pooling applications, then they can still be considered cloud native but not by NIST standards.

At the same time, these examples aren't cloud washing either. The line is quite broad on the differences between these two terms which is detrimental to initially picking a cloud for your business.

Finding Your Cloud

You're always better safe than sorry. If the process you're looking into doesn't have a sign of being cloud washing but doesn't exactly meet the NIST standards of being cloud native, then you may be better off looking elsewhere.

The process is often confusing, sadly, as choosing a cloud means putting a lot of trust into the provider. The easiest and safest thing to do is find a provider with the NIST cloud native rules and go from there.


About the Author

Kayla Matthews is a tech-loving blogger who writes and edits Follow her on Twitter @productibytes to read all of her latest posts!
Published Monday, January 14, 2019 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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