June 9, 2014
The Greek philosopher Plato is generally credited with coining the phrase, “Necessity is the mother of Invention” and I think that most of us would agree with the accuracy of his assessment. Isn’t this really the foundation for the genesis of most businesses, find a need and develop a product or method to address it? This same relationship applies to names. For example, would Google be as successful today if they had stuck with their original name, “Backrub”, or would stock holders’ in “Brad’s Drink” being doing as well as those who now have shares in Pepsi? As you can see, the right name can make all the difference, and it’s no different in the data center industry. Where we tend to differ from more conventional businesses is that our naming conventions are not just tied to companies, but to concepts as well. I’ve always been fascinated how these nom de plumes originate and are adopted. Is there some standards body that I don’t know about? This issue raised its head the other day when I read something about “the Fog”.
According to the article, “the Fog” is the term that the Cisco guys have come up with to describe what we used to call “edge computing”. Apparently the increasing volume of information generated as a by-product of the “Internet of Things”—I personally prefer the “Internet of Items”, but with a name like Chris Crosby I’m obviously a fan of alliteration—is outstripping the wireless bandwidth available to handle it, so more computing is moving closer to the source of the information. Thus, the need for a new concept name has emerged.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I find this new “fog” term to be lacking in imagination. I get that it shows some relation to the Cloud, but haven’t we all had enough of this whole weather-related motif? And why do the folks at Cisco get to name the term? Shouldn’t the rest of us have a little input here? Truth be told, I’ve always found the whole cloud metaphor to be a little pretentious. For one thing, what’s with the “the”? “The Cloud” would seem to indicate some degree of singularity, or worse, exclusivity and don’t we have enough societal issues without implementing some form of data center eliteism? Even the more egalitarian “cloud” just strikes me as a little stiff. Wouldn’t something that does a better job of inferring ubiquity like “the ether” or “the atmosphere” resonate a little more than a term that is typically associated with bad weather? I think we can all agree that it is just this lack of imagination that has burdened us with other namby-pamby terminology like “Big Data”, and annoying acronyms like DCIM or SDN.
Fortunately for all of us, this whole “Fog” thing is still in its infancy, and we still have time beat it into submission, but we are going to have to act fast. Our industry may have a lot of favorable attributes, but imagination isn’t one of them. If we’re not careful our marketing materials are going to sound like they were written by a bunch of out of work meteorologists. I encourage all of you to get your marketing people working on this issue immediately—and isn’t this what you pay them for? Here at Compass, my marketing guy is already focused on this effort but his first effort to coin a term that invoked ubiquity and close personal proximity, “The Clap”, is probably a little too controversial for general adoption so we are continuing to persevere. I urge you all to do the same or one of the emerging concepts in our business will be synonymous with a murky drizzle.