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11/5/2009
02:41 PM
Bob Evans
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HP's Hurd, IBM's Palmisano Agree: Cloud Is Lousy Name

Sure, Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd and IBM CEO Sam Palmisano spit nails at each other over most things, but on this they agree: while cloud computing has tremendous potential as a technological approach, the term itself is a lousy name. We're with you, guys, but please: whatever the new name is, no more three-letter acronyms, okay?

Sure, Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd and IBM CEO Sam Palmisano spit nails at each other over most things, but on this they agree: while cloud computing has tremendous potential as a technological approach, the term itself is a lousy name. We're with you, guys, but please: whatever the new name is, no more three-letter acronyms, okay?As we discussed last week, Hurd's bullish on the concept but can't stand the name: "I don't like the term-no, I don't like the term."

And at least some of his distaste must stem from a recent related round of boos he received from an audience of CEOs:

"I had to give a presentation to a group of CEOs, and I was representing us as an industry (circles his arms to crowd as indicator of inclusion), and here I am talking about the cloud and all kinds of cool things that can happen with the cloud, and, and I got a lot of boos, um, after that, and it started with the whole term, 'cloud.' From a non-technical CEO perspective, cloud computing doesn't sound very clear to them. So their view was, 'Can you guys ever come up with terminology that sounds a little more business-friendly than 'cloud computing?'

" 'Because,' " Hurd said in speaking for the CEOs in that earlier audience, " 'we'd like to be in the clear skies-we'd like to be with simple things we can understand-so if this cloud computing is so cool, try to break this down into more simple, clear services that people can actually get from this thing that's gonna help my business be a better business.' "

Closely reflecting Hurd's sentiments, IBM's Palmisano earlier this week referred to the cloud-computing name as "an unfortunate name," and shared his preference for the alternative of "highly virtualized infrastructure" in this context:

""Cloud computing-what we're really talking about is 'highly virtualized infrastructure'-it's also just beginning, but it's an unfortunate name.

"There's tons of hype in the beginning and then the industry starts to ascertain what's real and what's not, and that's where we are now. It's starting to take off on the consumer side, which has been very visible, but we don't play there, we're an enterprise company-but even with all the talk and rhetoric about cloud starting to slow down, the real thing behind the name is starting to ramp up . . . ."

And since Oracle's Larry Ellison has certainly made fun of the cloud-computing name on more than one occasion, it looks like we have a consensus. So the next question is, what should this computing platform with the high potential but the lousy name be called? Please send your suggestions to me at bevans@techweb.com, and after I go through the entries and pick out the best of all, my colleague Rob Preston will dip into his own pocket and send the winner $100,000 cash. Enter early, enter often!

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