IBM's repackaging damages cloud reputation

Red new product stamp

We all appreciate something new. From a new mobile phone to a new car, even a nice new pair of shoes can make us grin like a Cheshire cat who got the cream.

But the definition of ‘new’ is becoming a bit of a joke within the IT industry.

Since the inception of cloud computing as a term to describe a number of IT services, old school hosting companies have claimed the technology is nothing new at all.

Then, as the trend began to take off, numerous companies packaged up their products and stuck the word ‘cloud’ on them to try and sell more units and make them appear to keep up with the times - otherwise known as "cloud-washing."

But today’s release by IBM has really taken the biscuit for us over at Cloud Pro.

An email comes through this morning touting the next big thing to hit hybrid cloud computing – a NEW product irresistible to the corporate world.

“New IBM Hybrid Cloud offering” was the email subject and “IBM Unveils New Hybrid Cloud Solution for the Enterprise” was the headline.

Ok, we said, send us the press release, let us have a read and let’s talk to one of your executives about the ins and outs of the NEW release. This could be exciting!

The first glaring issue was the lack of a name for the NEW product, but we all make mistakes and it must have been missed from the release, I thought. I did not expect a good 10 seconds of silence on the other end of the phone whilst both the “Cloud IT specialist” and PR professional scrambled to find a title for what they were releasing.

The specialist did eventually come up with one but, after getting the ok to use the name and publishing the article, I received another email saying it is not what the product is called. In fact, the NEW product isn’t a NEW product at all.

“What is announced is not a new product but rather a new set of features,” I was informed an hour after the story was published.

So, instead of something new and exciting, IBM has thrown together two of its existing technologies, polished it a bit and added the hot term ‘hybrid cloud’ to the mix, enticing journalists and customers alike.

This is really not helping the cloud case is it? Critics are already whining about cloud computing being old technologies in new shiny packaging with a buzzword blazoned on the side. If companies as huge and influential as IBM are actually repackaging software and calling it NEW, what hope is there for those trying to convince the naysayers cloud is something different and worth investing in?

With HP and Dell both making announcements this week, it smacks of a scramble to get the headlines first, rather than an important strategy move IBM has been working towards.

Either way, it seems to have been a waste of time, with the possibility of doing more damage to the cloud than good.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.