The abuse of the word “cloud”: A brief history
Does anybody host anymore or are we all just supposed to act like we only sell cloud now? If you follow the general trends in the hosting/cloud industry, you would have to believe that hosting is becoming extinct, as everyone is “cloud washing” (the purposeful, and perhaps deceptive attempt by a vendor to rebrand an old product or service by associating it with the buzzword “cloud”).
Let’s pick a couple of examples where the word “hosting” disappeared for no apparent reason:
- FireHost, a hosting company, now is Armor – Not “Armor Host,” not even “Armor Cloud”—just “Armor”!
- Rackspace was “The Managed Hosting Company,” now they are “The Managed Cloud,” and that recently changed from the “Open Cloud.”
If you are following any of the reasons behind these changes, you’re ahead of the curve. This exodus from the word “hosting” only serves to confuse and market. Looking behind this trend is a litany of historical matters, technical definitions, and a heaping pile of marketing chicanery. Understanding why this is happening today requires an understanding of how we got here.
The confusion however is palpable, perhaps by design or perhaps because so many out there in the industry are imitating somebody else (namely AWS and Google). Everyone has a line of reasoning behind branding and name changes, but here’s what we know: much of these changes either don’t make any sense or have any connection to what customers really want; customers want an exceptional hosting service for their applications and IT infrastructure—period.
When Does Hosting Become a Cloud?
The short answer: it doesn’t. There are a lot of differences between the two, but it is not something you can easily find on many “cloud company” websites. The keys to differentiating between the two and what it means to you have been there all along in the very definitions of “hosting” and “cloud.”
HOSTING: Hosting is defined as “a store (a website or other data) on a server or other computer so that it can be accessed over the Internet and complimented by service.” The word “host” innately communicates a level of service. For example, if you host a party, there is implication that you will ensure your guests will have a good time. This is also true for IT hosting—hosting companies not only provide “space,” they also ensure their customers have a great experience.
Clearly, this definition would include what we know as the “cloud.” In addition, hosting is broadly categorized by the type of technology behind the platform, or the purpose. For example:
- Dedicated Hosting
- VPS Hosting
- Shared hosting
- Web hosting
- WordPress hosting
- Hybrid Hosting
- Domain hosting, etc.
What Makes a Cloud a Cloud?
There are specific attributes that make a cloud a “cloud,” and it is the egregious application of this term that has caused so much confusion. How do we know we are dealing with a “cloud”?
Cloud/cloud computing: The practice of using a network of remote virtual servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.
In addition, cloud computing technologies exhibit the following features:
- Scalability and on-demand availability
- Compute resources are shared
- Utility billing
- API accessible
Where is the word service here? Nowhere. A cloud computing platform is this impersonal place where you store your data, or use for computing with no associated service. This is why we like to add the word “hosting” when we describe the Codero Cloud.
The cloud has been around for some time, and it is important to briefly consider its historical introduction to understand where we are now.
Phase 1: Welcome to the Cloud
In the beginning, “cloud” started out as a term that was used only by technologists to describe very specific types of shared computing. The masses were introduced to the term through SaaS platforms. QuickBooks, Salesforce, Apple, and many others came to rely on “cloud” as a term of convenience. It was easy to tell users that their data was “in the cloud.” Ironically, SaaS clouds are usually comprised of many components, almost always including dedicated hosting. The word “cloud” was here to stay, and as SaaS providers started using the term, the search volume (and cost for cloud keywords), skyrocketed.
Phase 2: We Cloud Too
With all this cloud goodness going around, it only made sense that “cloud” would find its way to business services. All of a sudden, hosting companies started becoming “cloud companies.” On this path, many hosting companies began strategically working to incorporate cloud into their messaging to capture the search traffic.
It all gets cloudy from here, as old hosting products became “cloud” products and many “cloudy”(hosting products with cloud-like features) products emerged.
- SiteGround.com Launches New Cloud Hosting Service – 2010
- UKVPSHosting Launches New Cloud VPS Hosting Services 2011
- Blacknight Cloud Hosting – 2011
- Western Digital’s My Cloud “Personal cloud storage device” 2015
- Moleskine’s “cloud-connected” Smart Notebook
- Adobe Creative Cloud
There are countless examples of this shameless “Cloud Washing.”
Phase 3: No More Hosting
Today, companies have minimized the usage of hosting so much, it’s difficult to find the term on their sites.
Point made. Note that due to specialization of cloud services, companies are positioning products and service specifically to the purpose of their products. One cannot shake the notion that there is something else happening.
Hosting is Where Service Lives
As mentioned earlier, the word “hosting” implies service, and if it seems nobody else wants to do that anymore, you’d be correct in that assumption. The willful disregard of the word “hosting” tells the tale of a shift towards minimal services. Call it automation, call it self-service, call it whatever you want—all of these hosting companies are shooting for the credit card purchase, “you-help-yourself” model. The commitment of service is a big part of why “hosting” is getting harder and harder to find.
Codero envisions a world wherein both cloud and hosting exist under the same umbrella, with a simple formula:
- Hosting=Cloud + Service
- Hosting=Infrastructure + Service
Codero will not shy away from service, and we do not shy away from “hosting.” That is why we added the word hosting into our name in January of 2012 when all these companies were taking it off!
While it may seem tempting to put everything into whatever cloud, understand that not all companies deliver “cloud” or “hosting” with the same definition in mind. Hosting is not old-fashioned; it is what this new complex world needs. Dedicated servers, cloud, hybrid cloud, managed services, and every little piece of the Codero family of products are built with service in mind. Contact us today to learn more about our service-driven hosting solutions.