Don’t Become a Victim: Three Signs of Cloudwashing

Posted on October 27, 2014

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We’ve heard plenty about the cloud, some of us have even watched horrific movies about it – that’s right we’re talking about the 2014 bomb “Sex Tape” with Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz – and some of us heard about the celebrities who had pictures “taken” from the cloud. Don’t worry we’re not asking for a show of hands. But worse than the movie or pictures is the potential for being cloudwashed. For many of us, cloudwashed is a new term. We’ve enlisted Bert Lowry (LinkedIn and Twitter), Springbrook Software, to make “cloudwashed” a more familiar term and to discuss three signs that you’re being cloudwashed.

Don’t Become a Victim: Three Signs of Cloudwashing

1by Bert Lowry

There’s no doubt: local government is embracing the cloud. Gig Harbor, WA and Alexander City, AL are two examples of this. In Gig Harbor, Dave Rodenbach, the city’s finance director, has lead the charge. Alexander City moved to the cloud after facing the unique situation of being locked out of their own servers.

The benefits and cost savings are two drivers that helped eased local government’s natural caution. The move to the cloud is great, right?

Well, yes and no. It opens the door for municipalities and districts to seize the benefits of cloud computing. But it also unlocks the door to fake cloud charlatans who want to ride the cloud wave without providing actual cloud benefits. And that’s a problem.

An “All Natural” Cloudwashing

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When a new idea becomes popular, every marketing team worth their salt figures out how to leverage it (think “All Natural” in grocery stores). If their product doesn’t fit, they fudge. In the world of cloud computing, it’s become so prevalent there’s a word for it: cloudwashing.

Cloudwashing (see Dilbert’s take) is taking old technology, hosting it, and calling it “cloud”. It’s a way to keep selling even though you’ve fallen behind the technology curve. And it’s everywhere.

And I Should Care Because…..


The cloud is only valuable because it provides certain benefits:

  • Always up-to-date (no more upgrades)
  • Better security (unless you work for the Department of Defense or NSA)
  • Work from anywhere (even your favorite cafe)
  • No hardware hassles (or costs)
  • Built in disaster recovery/business continuity (find an internet connection and your back in business)

Usually, it’s also less expensive, a lot easier to set up, and more reliable than on-premise software. That’s a lot of bang for the buck. But if your cloud is solution is actually cloudwashed, you’re probably not getting your money’s worth.

3 Signs of a Cloudwash


Luckily, it’s pretty easy to spot cloudwashed software. Not only does it fail to provide all the benefits listed above, there are three obvious traits – “The Three Signs of Cloudwashing”.

Sign #1: It requires Citrix or VPN

replace-user-error-funny-error-messagesTrue cloud software is accessed via the internet, straight from a browser, with no special hardware or software needed. Not Citrix. No VPN. That’s important for three reasons.

  • Work from anywhere.
  • No hardware/network hassles.
  • As anyone who has used Citrix/VPN can tell you, those products always introduce a lag. And no one likes to type a sentence and then wait for the computer to fill in the characters. It’s a recipe for miskeys and frustration.

Citrix/VPN is a sign you’ve been cloudwashed.

Sign #2: It’s “cloud hosted”

nokia-242x300Say it with me: HOSTED IS NOT CLOUD, HOSTED IS NOT CLOUD, HOSTED IS NOT CLOUD. There’s nothing wrong with hosted software. It just doesn’t provide the same benefits as the cloud. With hosted software:

  • There’s a single point of failure (if your Citrix/VPN connection goes down, you’re dead in the water)
  • There are no shared costs (so you pay the whole cost of backups, updates, etc.)
  • Updates are not automatic (you’re not always on the latest, greatest version)

If your solution is “hosted”, it’s cloudwashing.

Sign #3: You need to download software or install an “add-on”

download (2)If software requires you to install anything besides a simple browser, then it’s not cloud. And worse than that, it’s going to be a maintenance headache – just ask your IT team.

Ensuring that every computer that will ever run the software has the same version of the same components installed (and that they work with all the different hardware configurations and operating systems) is, quite frankly, a maintenance nightmare. Just reading that last sentence is kind of a nightmare. (Editor’s Note: Touche) 

Ever wonder why your IT team is so uptight about installing iTunes on your work computer? It’s because they know it will eventually break something else and take hours to solve.

Software you have to install is not on the cloud. It’s cloudwashing.

Don’t Become a Cloudwashing Victim


Because of all the benefits, cloud has blossomed from awesome technology to marketing buzzword. The technology is still great, you just have to watch out for frauds and con-men.

Keep an eye out for the Three Signs of Cloudwashing. If you’re not sure, ask questions. And if you’re still not sure, shoot me an email. I’m happy to be a resource to help you and your agency navigate the world of cloud computing.

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