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What is "cloud washed" software?

By Meg Cater | Sep 3, 2014

Almost every B2B software company on the market today has a position on how the cloud is transforming business, how it’s creating new opportunities for global reach and collaboration, and how their ‘cloud’ software is cutting edge. But marketing is one thing, and the actual technology is another. Not all companies mean the same thing when they use the term ‘cloud.’ 

Thankfully, many people with a passion for software literacy have been evangelizing the technical nuances of cloud-based software. Some say we shouldn’t even be using the term because it’s so vague. However, all that evangelizing does seem to be paying off — the average user is much more educated today than they were even a few years ago. Most of us are at least familiar with its different forms from SaaS, IaaS and PaaS to web services and APIs. However, at this point in the cloud race, we want to make some clearer distinctions.

Not all SaaS is created equal

You may have heard the term ‘cloud washed.’ It was originally borrowed from the environmental movement’s coined term ‘green washed,’ which drew attention to businesses that were marketing and repacking their products as green without meeting any environmental standard.

Cloud washing is a similar practice by software companies that advantage of the root term, cloud computing — which is a general reference to any service provided over the internet — and rebrand existing products with the buzzword ‘cloud.’ But that’s the extreme end of the deception. Reputable companies are a bit more savvy and at least release new products. However, they may not overhaul their design principles or company infrastructure to support this newer form of software, which is a significant investment.

Often, they simply take software developed for on-premises, wrap it in a virtual machine, allow businesses to deploy it on cloud instances, and pay by the hour to operate it. But this is not what software innovators mean when they say ‘cloud,’ and there are some very significant services missing from this kind of cloud washed software.

Signiant’s new eBook breaks down the difference

The difference between cloud native and cloud washed software is a nuanced and important topic if you rely on software to run your business. We’ve written a new eBook on the subject breaking down the technological differences between the two approaches to software development, outlining the unique benefits of cloud native software, and introducing Signiant’s approach to cloud software for the accelerated movement of large digital assets.

You can download the eBook here.