Application Delivery Blog

5 Easy Ways to Spot Cloud Washing in Your Load Balancer

Guru Chahal
Posted on Mar 19, 2018 1:13:56 PM

Over the last decade, public cloud has gone from a fringe use case for startups to a mainstream choice for CIOs worldwide. In the past year or two, this trend has gained so much momentum that on-premises hardware appliance vendors are now forced to acknowledge it, rather than their previous tactic of spreading FUD. So here’s the prediction: there is going to be a lot, and I mean A LOT, of “cloud washing”.

What is Cloud Washing?

In case you aren’t familiar with the phrase cloud washing, please replace all instances of “cloud washing” with “lipstick on a pig” for the rest of this article.

In cloud washing, a company refreshes its product by adding the word “cloud” to the name. This is a ploy to cover up a product shortcoming with marketing fluff.

“Yup.” -Chris Heggem, marketer at Avi Networks

See! Proof that I know what I’m talking about.

Let’s take an example of an old school appliance vendor, say a load balancer vendor. They probably wrote the software in the late 90s to early 2000s and have been adding features and complexity to this appliance for the last decade or two. When virtualization became prevalent in the data center, we saw these vendors emulate their hardware in a virtual machine and call it "Virtual Edition". The strategy for cloud then becomes: let’s get a virtual version of our product so it works in the cloud and call it “Cloud Edition”.


Cloud washing is bad. You don’t want it. So here are some ways you can spot cloud washing in the wild. Look for load balancers that:

  • Requires additional products. The cloud is supposed to reduce complexity, not increase it. You don’t want to buy separate software packages for the load balancer, the controller, or analytics.
  • Requires a hardware purchase. Nothing screams “legacy” like hardware.
  • Requires manual provisioning/configuration. This is the cloud we’re talking about! Writing custom scripts per-app is so 2010. Turnkey or bust!
  • Have complex pricing. The cloud has consumption-based pricing. Be highly suspicious of load balancers that don’t share in this feature.
  • Don’t offer intelligence. You’re not managing the infrastructure anymore, so it’s even more important to have application analytics that give you details on your applications and end-users. Without it, you’re flying blind. Don’t do that. It’s bad. Trust me on this one.

It is only a matter of time before the cloud washed load balancers parade into the market. Make no mistake, there will be much fanfare from the vendors touting their new wares. But don’t let the lipstick on a pig fool you. A cloud washed load balancer cannot compete on price, performance, or functionality with a cloud native load balancer.

That’s my rant. I do not consider myself much of a blogger but I think this about does it, right?

“Yup.” -Chris Heggem, marketer at Avi Networks

Oh, awesome. Okay. Thanks. I’ll just stop typing now.

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Topics: Public Cloud, Hardware, Cloud Migration, Cloud Washing, What is Cloud Washing, Cloud Washing Load Balancers

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