This trend has gained so much momentum in the past two years that vendors who built their legacy in the data centre are forced to acknowledge it. So here’s a prediction: there is going to be a LOT of ‘cloud washing’.
First, let’s define cloud washing. In cloud washing, a company refreshes its product simply by adding the word ‘cloud’ to the name. This is a ploy to cover up a product’s shortcomings with marketing fluff.
Consider an example: an old school appliance vendor, say a load balancer vendor, which probably wrote its software in the late 90s to early 2000s, has been adding features to this appliance for the past decade or two.
Today a cloud washed solution would be like bringing a hardware appliance to the cloud, which doesn’t have cloud-like functionality or capabilities — something few users would consider satisfactory. To help with identifying better technology, here are five ways to spot cloud washing in the wild. Beware of ‘cloud edition’ appliances that:
- Require additional products. The cloud is supposed to reduce complexity, not increase it. IT doesn’t want to buy separate software packages for the load balancer, the controller, or analytics.
- Require a hardware purchase. Nothing screams ‘legacy’ like hardware.
- Require manual provisioning/configuration. This is the cloud we’re talking about! Writing custom scripts per-app is so 2010 - a solution has to be turnkey.
- Unable to autoscale: Organisations need services in the cloud to function like the cloud. If the cloud infrastructure is autoscaling and application services aren't, this presents a serious problem.
- Have complex pricing. The cloud has consumption-based pricing, so be highly suspicious of ‘cloud edition’ appliances that don’t offer in this feature.
- Don’t offer intelligence. Since IT is no longer managing the infrastructure, it’s even more important to have application analytics that provide details on applications and end-users. Without it, an organisation is flying blind, which is never a good idea.
Make no mistake, there will be lots of fanfare from the vendors touting their new wares, but don’t be fooled by cloud washing. A cloud washed appliance, like a load balancer or WAF, cannot compete on price, performance, or functionality with a cloud native solution. Expectations for cloud environments can be realised only when organisations are cautious about what technologies they bring to support their applications in the cloud.
* George Tsoukas on behalf of Avi Networks