Definition of Cloudwashing

Cloudwashing is the deceptive practice of rebranding or repackaging existing products or services as cloud-based or cloud-enabled without making substantial improvements or changes to their functionality. It takes advantage of the hype and public perception that cloud computing is more efficient, scalable, and cost-effective than traditional IT solutions. Companies engaging in cloudwashing mislead consumers by promoting outdated offerings as new and advanced cloud technologies.


The phonetic spelling of the keyword “Cloudwashing” is: /ˈklaʊdwɒʃɪŋ/

Key Takeaways

  1. Cloudwashing is the misleading practice of rebranding or repackaging traditional products and services as ‘cloud-based’ by attaching the cloud terminology to them, without offering the full benefits of cloud computing.
  2. Cloudwashing can lead to customer confusion, as they may not receive the expected advantages of the cloud, such as scalability, flexibility, and cost efficiency. Users should be cautious and research providers to ensure they offer genuine cloud solutions.
  3. Preventing cloudwashing involves raising awareness about this practice and encouraging transparency within the industry. Being well-informed and knowledgeable about the key characteristics and features of cloud solutions can help identify genuine offerings.

Importance of Cloudwashing

Cloudwashing is an important technology term because it raises awareness of deceptive marketing tactics where a company overstates or falsely promotes a product or service as a cloud-based offering, without actually delivering the true benefits of cloud computing.

Understanding the concept of cloudwashing helps businesses and consumers be more informed and cautious when selecting cloud services, ensuring that they are indeed receiving the advantages typically associated with cloud technology, such as scalability, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility.

By being aware of cloudwashing, one can avoid being misled into purchasing or using services that do not meet the expectations set by genuine cloud solutions.


Cloudwashing refers to the misleading marketing practice where companies rebrand their traditional products or services as cloud-based solutions, even when they do not fully meet the criteria to be considered true cloud services. This is done to capitalize on the booming popularity of cloud computing and to project an image of being innovative and competitive in the industry.

The essential purpose of cloudwashing is to entice customers by presenting a legacy or outdated service as a new, advanced, and feature-rich cloud offering, even if it doesn’t truly harness the benefits that cloud computing provides. The term “cloudwashing” comes from the analogy to “greenwashing,” where companies falsely advertise their products as environmentally friendly.

By exploiting the cloud computing trend, companies deceive potential customers into believing their solutions are cutting-edge, scalable, and on-demand to make them more appealing in comparison to rivals who genuinely offer true cloud-based innovations. Customers who fall prey to cloudwashing may find that these rebranded products do not have the desired attributes or capabilities of actual cloud services and lack the advantages they expect, such as instant scalability, cost efficiency, and seamless integrations.

Therefore, being aware of cloudwashing is crucial for businesses to ensure they invest in genuine cloud solutions that offer real value and potential growth.

Examples of Cloudwashing

Cloudwashing refers to the practice where companies use marketing strategies and terminology to portray their products or services as cloud-based solutions, even if they don’t fully leverage the benefits of cloud computing. Here are three real-world examples:

Rebranding Old Services: A software company might rebrand its traditional on-premise software solution and start calling it a “cloud-based” service, even though it still requires installation on local servers and lacks the scalability and flexibility of true cloud services. In this case, the company is falsely claiming to offer a cloud-based product to capitalize on the industry buzz around cloud computing.

Overselling Cloud Features: A data storage company could start to advertise its services as “cloud storage” by implementing minimal changes, such as adding remote access to files. While remote access is a feature of cloud storage, true cloud storage services also offer other benefits such as multi-device synchronization, automatic backups, and resource allocation on-demand. By overselling a single cloud feature, this company is cloudwashing its customers.

Inadequate Support for Cloud Services: An IT service provider might claim to specialize in implementing cloud services, but in reality, their offerings consist mainly of on-premise solutions and managed services. This company may lack expertise in deploying and managing true cloud services, or they might prioritize their traditional offerings to protect their existing business model. They may even create “private cloud” services that don’t exhibit the core benefits of true cloud computing such as elasticity, resource pooling, and pay-as-you-go pricing. By claiming to specialize in cloud services while not fully supporting or embracing their benefits, this company is engaging in cloudwashing.

FAQs on Cloudwashing

What is cloudwashing?

Cloudwashing refers to the deceptive practice of marketing a product or service as a cloud-based solution even when it does not provide the full range of features, benefits, or scalability associated with true cloud computing. This is typically done by taking an existing, non-cloud solution and rebranding it as a cloud offering.

Why is cloudwashing an issue?

Cloudwashing creates confusion for customers who are in search of genuine cloud solutions, leading them to misunderstand the capabilities of a product and often invest in sub-optimal solutions. It can result in wasted resources, failed implementations, and unmet expectations for customers, while also undermining the reputation of legitimate cloud service providers.

How can businesses identify genuine cloud services?

To identify genuine cloud services, businesses should look out for key characteristics such as elasticity, scalability, resource pooling, and subscription-based billing. It’s also important to verify that the solution meets regulatory and compliance requirements and offers robust security measures. Checking for reputable certifications and ensuring that the provider has a strong track record can also help businesses avoid cloudwashing.

What are some steps to avoid falling for cloudwashing?

To avoid falling for cloudwashing, be sure to conduct thorough research before selecting a cloud service provider. Understand the full scope of features, benefits, and limitations of cloud computing, and seek out genuine cloud solutions with clear and transparent information about their capabilities. Verify the provider’s track record, certifications, and security measures to make an informed decision.

How does cloudwashing impact the cloud computing industry?

Cloudwashing negatively affects the cloud computing industry by creating confusion and mistrust among customers who may have had negative experiences with misrepresented solutions. Customers may become wary of cloud services, even reliable ones, due to concerns about false claims and inadequate solutions. This can undermine the reputation and growth of legitimate cloud service providers in the long term.

Related Technology Terms

  • Cloud Computing
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Vendor lock-in

Sources for More Information


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