A consistent question with inconsistent answers.

The holiday season is usually a time for reflection. A time to focus on the year that was. If you’re lucky, and your hectic holiday schedule permits, you may even get to spend a bit of quiet time contemplating what is to come in the new year.

The holiday season is also a time for meeting lot and lots of new people. Whether it is a family, personal, or professional gathering, there are countless hands to shake, names to remember and, ideally, new friends to make.

As I enjoyed the end of 2013, I forced myself to take time and reflect on the new introductions I’d made and to recall one thing about each new person I met. Throughout this process one topic consistently stood out: the cloud.

You see, whenever I’d meet someone this holiday season, they inevitably asked, “so, what do you do?” After telling them I worked in marketing at ServerCentral, they then asked, “what does ServerCentral do?” After explaining that ServerCentral provides IT infrastructure services, the conversations (almost always) took an immediate turn to cloud.

“I’m all about the cloud. I love Dropbox.”

“Oh, you guys do cloud stuff? We’re looking closely at Azure.”

“My company is looking at cloud. We want to make sure that everyone in our company has access to our files from any device.”

“The cloud is great. I love that my Kindle books are in the cloud.”

“We’re with AWS right now and thinking hybrid. We should talk.”

There are a few interesting findings in this: First, everyone immediately associated IT infrastructure with cloud without prompting. Second, people were really excited to talk about their cloud experience. Finally, and most importantly, the definition of cloud varies dramatically.

After hearing these (and other) statements come up a few times, I realized something that I knew, but never took the time to actually acknowledge: there is no one definition of the cloud.

There are technical definitions, aligning closely with “elastic compute and storage capacity paid for on a usage-only basis.”

There are also casual definitions, aligning closely with “computing equipment and data storage that I don’t own running somewhere that isn’t my home or office.”

And so, reflecting back during the 2013 holiday season, what I’ll absolutely take with me into 2014 is:

  1. People are generally excited by the opportunities that the cloud can provide them, regardless of their definition.
  2. There is absolutely, positively, not one definition of the cloud.
  3. Don’t ever forget to ask someone, “what’s your definition of cloud?” so I’m sure I can help them meet their objectives.