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Cloudwashing is a pejorative term for a supposedly cloud-based solution that does not use any true cloud features at all. The implication behind the term is that a company is trying to pass off existing non-cloud products as "cloud computing." Companies believed to be cloudwashing are allegedly inflating their portfolio of cloud products on their financial statements.
People who use the word "cloudwashing" believe that many enterprise companies are artificially inflating the number of cloud products because cloud computing has become the latest buzzword.
According to TechTarget, true cloud solutions are user-provisioning and rely on pay-per-use billing using multi-tenant architectures. "Cloudwashing" is applied to enterprise companies, particularly those in the mainframe world, who try to rebrand old solutions as using the cloud.
The term is analogous to another pejorative term, "greenwashing," where corporations try to claim that their products are environmentally friendly when they really are not.
Because cloud providers are allegedly inflating the number of cloud products they have on the financial statements they are required to file as publicly traded companies, the practice has attracted some legal attention. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission questioned IBM over supposed inflation of its cloud portfolio in 2013. In 2016, Svetlana Blackburn, a former senior finance manager for Oracle, filed a lawsuit alleging the company fired her for refusing to overstate the company's sales of cloud products. Oracle filed a countersuit for what it said was malicious prosecution.
Even though the cloud is the latest buzzword, the concept behind it is hardly new, with plans for "utility computing" first appearing in the 1960s.