The Importance of Standardizing Cloud Definitions

Though the cloud-based world that businesses are migrating towards has ushered in a wide variety of different benefits, it has also ushered in a great deal of grief and frustration due to miscommunication. Many terms that are used in discussions about cloud-based systems and architecture have multiple meanings and lack any type of a standard definition. Many people treat these terms as interchangeable and none of them seem to be used with 100 percent consistency. The resulting confusion has the potential to severely limit the discussion and ultimate advancement of the technology across the industry unless standardized definitions are both adopted and put into practice.

The Private Cloud

When discussing cloud-based technologies, people have a tendency to use the term “private cloud” to mean anything from an in-house system of virtual servers to a cloud-based setup leased from a hosting company that can only be accessed by specific individuals. As these two definitions are wildly different from one another, it can make discussions about private cloud technology difficult to say the least. The most commonly accepted definition for a private cloud is any type of infrastructure that is operated specifically for one organization.


Many different cloud-related acronyms also get used interchangeably with one another. For example, the acronym “SaaS” has been commonly used when referring to both software as a service and security as a service topics. Software as a Service refers to on-demand software components that are stored in a cloud-based system. Security as a Service on the other hand, refers to a situation where security services are integrated into a business infrastructure on a subscription basis, similar to the way antivirus programs are handled for consumers.

Cloud-based acronyms in general have been the cause for much confusion. Acronyms are designed to make discussions easier by abbreviating longer terms that are highly technical in nature. The point of the acronym is negated when nobody can actually agree on what an acronym is supposed to stand for.

The Cloud Itself

Likewise, the very definition of the cloud itself has been called into question with multiple definitions. Some people use the term “cloud” to refer to anything that is hosted online. Likewise, others use the term “cloud” to refer to any virtual server that is connected to the Internet for data distribution and storage. The most commonly accepted definition of the cloud itself is that of using various types of computer resources, either hardware or software, that are then delivered over a network connection to an end user as a service. The two aforementioned definitions are much too broad to do anyone who is discussing the cloud any good.

The Ramifications

Discussion is important for a number of different reasons, especially in the world of technology. Discussion is a way to identify problems and address issues, and it can also be a great way to encourage innovation. With so many different terms with regards to cloud-based technology being used interchangeably, they begin to overlap and become almost meaningless. The power of discussion is completely nullified. Until the vast majority of users and technology professionals get on the same page and start using cloud-based terms with some level of consistency, there won’t be an opportunity for truly meaningful conversations about the cloud because everyone will be talking about something different from everyone else.


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