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What is Cloud Washing? 3 Examples of Buzzword Marketing Gone Too Far

Cloud Washing Cloud Computing

Cloud Washing Cloud ComputingBy now, Cloud computing is a very well defined term. Anyone with an internet connection is just a Google search away from knowing its basic definition.

Here’s what you get when you search for “cloud computing definition”:


That’s a pretty decent start. If our Google-searcher reads on he or she will quickly learn that any legitimate cloud service is characterized by three main benefits: elastic resources, self-service provisioning, and pay per use.

So why do marketers keep throwing ‘Cloud’ around like a meaningless buzzword? Here’s another term, which you may not have heard of: Cloud washing.

Cloud washing, as defined by, is “the purposeful and sometimes deceptive attempt by a vendor to rebrand an old product or service by associating the buzzword “cloud” with it.”

Much like greenwashing, cloud washing is often a convenient way for vendors to attach a product to a trend without changing it.

So, without any further delay, here are three examples of rediculous cloud washing:


Western Digital’s My Cloud “Personal cloud storage device”


Vendor Copy: “With My Cloud, it’s no longer a mystery where your personal files are stored. It’s your own cloud that you control, so you’ll know that your videos, photos, music, and documents are in one safe place…your place.”

Finally! It’s the on-premise cloud storage solution we’ve all been waiting for!

Rule of thumb: if anyone offers you a cloud that you can ‘take home,’ it’s not cloud. In this case, the product in question is a Network-attached storage (NAS) device, something that has been around for a long time, which has recently enjoyed a new coat of cloud paint from many storage companies.

To be fair, NAS is pretty useful, it’s just not cloud. But hey, that commercial is pretty cool.

Moleskine’s “cloud-connected” Smart Notebook

This is a notebook, like, with paper. You draw in it with a pen. It is not a netbook. Just clearing that up.

The Moleskine Smart notebook features special page markings and an Adobe Creative Cloud connected Moleskine app to upload your drawings to Photoshop, InDesign or whatever other Adobe apps you may be using.

As a cross-marketing idea, this works pretty well. Do creatives use Adobe? yes. Do creatives love Moleskine? Judging from the number of bound black notebooks at my local coffee shop, yes. But I’d hesitate to say that calling this product “cloud-connected” is anything but a stretch.

Side-note: Adobe Creative Cloud is blurring the lines itself. If customers need to install your software on their hard drive to run it, can your suite really be considered cloud? They do offer cloud storage and file management, but the fact that I can’t access and use those files online from any device makes Creative Cloud questionable. “Tournament management in the cloud.”

March madness in the cloud!

Vendor Copy: “BracketCloud integrates a tournament bracket maker, printable brackets, round-robin scheduling and social tools in one platform accessible from any computer, mobile or tablet you use.”

I guess this could be considered SaaS, but does it really have to be? There are plenty of businesses doing this, Draftkings, YahooSports, and ESPN all come to mind, but nobody else is claiming ‘cloud.’ It looks like this idea never really took off, do we have to wonder why?

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