Sometimes Definitions Matter

In the service provider world, oftentimes we have to develop our own definitions.  With much of the technology that is in use today having been developed by, with and for the enterprise customer, sometimes the popular way of referring to something doesn’t have a lot of relevance to our business.

Such has been the challenge of “the cloud” in some respects.  Despite having an Enterprise Cloud platform that is over three years old and that generates tens of millions of dollars for my company, we have never been able to get behind the marketing hype that surrounded the Cloud in the industry.  Part of that was our fault: we are a small company who employs a TON of smart people, and when we can’t agree on something internally it’s a struggle to craft a public message.  Even at the executive level, there are people who are hesitant to call what we do “Cloud” because of some obscure definition that existed before our time.

In this case, I’m glad we waited.  We’ve made it, as an industry, through most of the noise around the Cloud and are getting closer to it’s promise.  The industry has coalesced around some key tenets of the cloud, and while there are some difference in the details, everyone is on-board with the basic definitions.  For our purposes we have adopted the NIST definition (, as it seems to be slightly more flexible than others, like Gartner’s, and NIST appears (our opinion) to be a group who has no dog in the fight, while Gartner is constantly trying to sell us stuff that relates to the definition they are creating.  Maybe that’s naive or unfair, but there it is.

Almost as important as the definition is the people who are championing it.  At my company we roll out our Cloud message not just to the sales teams, or to the Operations teams: we roll it out to everyone.  Every Office Manager, accounting person, support center engineer and executive gets the same presentations around what our offering is, how we deliver it and how we sell it.  In a company like ours one of the mottoes is “Everybody sells!” and we reinforce that by making sure everyone has the message!