Misleading, over reaching catch phrases abound in the cloud computing and virtualization markets

When suppliers try to tie their technology to misleading catch phrases, does it really work for them or just create more market confusion?

Over the years, I've watched several attempts to brand products with a new catch phrase that shows a frantic rush for suppliers to look bigger than they really are. Often this begins with a generally accepted phrase. That phrase is then attached to something else in the hopes that it will make the product or service appear well known and acceptable. In the end, it is unnecessary confusing.

An example from long ago was when Oracle started describing their database clustering technology as "grid computing." The folks in the high performance computing world who had been using the catch phrase to describe configurations made up of hundreds or, perhaps, thousands of compute nodes weren't amused. It confused some IT and business decision makers and made it difficult for them to make their case to management.

Another example is VMware's attempt to call its products "a data center operating system." The facts were that VMware's software at the time didn't offer any support whatsoever of important components of a data center, such as mainframes, single vendor midrange systems, networking, cooling or power distribution systems. Had they spoken about an operating system for industry standard systems, the catch phrase might have been supportable.

Several storage virtualization suppliers have started to describe their storage virtualization software using the phrase "storage hypervisor." A hypervisor or virtual machine software, allows complete workloads to be encapsulated and run as separate processes on a single system. The storage virtualization technology merely hides the operational details of storage devices from systems accessing the storage. DataCore and IBM offer recent examples of the use of this phrase.

Most recently, I've seen several companies talk about their cloud computing monitors and application frameworks as "cloud operating systems." The most recent example is in an announcement by a start up called Piston Cloud. The company is calling its open stack distribution targeting secure applications "PentOS." Operating systems work at a different layer of the IT model and manages the processing, memory, I/O, networking and storage for workloads on a single system. The so called cloud operating systems are typically not trying to manage low level resources of a system. They rely on hypervisors and operating systems such as Windows, Linux or UNIX to manage systems.

Has this marketing gambit ever worked for you? Were you persuaded to give a product a glance or even a second look?


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