We have a service that’s potentially hazardous, mysterious, unpredictable, obscures the sight and downright dreary. How would you like to sign up today?

This is what I think of when I hear the term “cloud computing.” It’s not the best description of an IT service, either from a technical or marketing perspective.

Our feature for the March 20 issue was cloud computing, which IDC analyst Frank Gens describes as “shared services, under virtual management, accessible over the Internet by people and other services via Internet standards.”

Info-Tech analyst John Sloan describes it as the provisioning of applications from abstracted compute resources, derived from aggregated and virtualized commodity hardware.

There’s nothing wrong with the concept of cloud computing. It makes perfect sense for an organization without the right staff or equipment to run applications and store data in-house. The concerns over security, management and control are legitimate but should not be deal-breakers in all cases. People outsource other services that are, arguably, more important — such as food. If you don’t know which farm was the source of the roast you ate last night, do you need to know which server is hosting your SAP Financials?

Still, with the billions of dollars spent on marketing, you’d think the IT industry could come up with a better term than cloud. Of course we can’t call cloud providers service bureaus or outsourcers because that would clue people in to the fact that this is nothing new. So what other term would Savvis use for Compute Cloud, a vision that it describes as giving clients the ability to do “entire data outsourcing that applies all the best practices of security, storage and networking?”

I admit I’m a bit like a sports writer who lambastes hockey players but couldn’t skate to save his life. If you have a better term than cloud, please share it with us.

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