Tl;dr The “supercloud” is still not a thing
I recently argued the term “supercloud” was super mostly in the sense of being super vague and that “an industry drowning in jargon needs a higher bar for new terminology”. A plea for a crisper definition followed:
The sultans of “supercloud” have responded. Characteristically, the latest “supercloud” elucidation is an aside, nestled within a review of predictions (see #7) from the previous year. Here is their related slide with its relevant last bullet and the latest “supercloud” discussion along with the two preceding paragraphs in case they provide any illuminating context:
AWS, the inventor of cloud, sees the world as bringing its application programming interfaces, primitives and programming model to the edge. The data center to AWS is just another edge node. The company says that in the fullness of time, all data will be in the cloud. And AWS would say to all this hybrid talk of connecting on-premises to a cloud: “That’s not cloud.”
Then you have the likes of Cisco Systems Inc., Dell Technologies Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. and others saying, “Hold on — cloud is an operating model, not a place.” And AWS might say, “Yeah — and AWS along with its customers is defining the cloud operating model.” And these other guys would say, “No… actually you’re not– we are with our customers.” This battle 100% escalated in 2021 with the launch of Apex by Dell, HPE’s focus on GreenLake, Cisco’s as-a-service models and others such as IBM Corp. piling on. And then of course Oracle, which actually announced a true same:same public-to-on-prem hybrid capability two years before AWS announced Outposts.
The other nuance here is a concept we introduced called “supercloud,” which refers to the notion that multicloud is not about compatibility on an individual cloud, rather it’s about abstracting the complexity of the underlying cloud(s) and building valuable cloud services on top of the hyperscalers.
Some people didn’t like the term supercloud, but we’ll continue to use it to describe this capability. And we’re seeing new examples such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s financial cloud running on AWS. So a supercloud to us is not an application or SaaS running on a single cloud, rather it’s an abstracted service that either spans multiple clouds or, in the case of Goldman Sachs, runs on a single cloud as a portfolio of data, tools, software and services made accessible as a service that floats on top of a single or multiple clouds.
We’ll graciously ignore how a prediction about CIO hybrid cloud deployment patterns and definition of multi-cloud has been retconned into a definition for “supercloud”.
With this latest post, the “supercloud” canon has exploded. In fact, it has gone exponential. From a single sentence definition to two sentences, now to a whopping four sentences, it is verging on a manifesto (though still missing a precise or useful definition that helps us determine what is, or maybe more importantly, what is not a “supercloud”).
Let’s parse the latest textual offering much as the ancients divined chicken entrails when they too confronted incomprehensible forces in the world:
- “…”supercloud”, which refers to the notion multicloud is not about compatibility on an individual cloud”
- So “supercloud” is an approach to multi-cloud? Has anyone actually argued multi-cloud is about compatibility on a single cloud?
- “…it’s about abstracting the complexity of the underlying cloud(s) and building valuable cloud services on top of the hyperscalers”
- If this were Twitter, I’d say “PaaS. You’ve invented PaaS”.
- Platforms are fractal and abstractions can build on one another infinitely. Where does the “supercloud” begin and end?
- The hyperclouds have services that meet this definition – are they also “superclouds”? Would they then be “hyper-superclouds” or “super-hyperclouds”?
- Back in the early days of the “supercloud”, they could span on-prem and the legacy hardware vendors might even be building “superclouds” (or at least given the green light to “supercloud-wash”) – is that no longer the case?
- “Some people didn’t like the term supercloud”
- Guilty as charged and doubling down! And for the record, I didn’t like the term itself, but I really disliked its super fuzzy definition.
- “…a supercloud to us is not an application or SaaS running on a single cloud”
- As the progenitors of “supercloud”, your definition will be definitive, so don’t defer to anyone else to define your concept.
- If SaaS is not “supercloud”, what is the dividing line between “superclouds” and SaaS?
- Single clouds are verboten except Goldman Sachs can run on a single cloud and still be a “supercloud”?
- Single clouds are maybe ok if it is “a portfolio of data, tools, software and services made accessible as a service that floats on top of a single or multiple clouds.”
- “a portfolio of data, tools, software and services made accessible as a service that floats on top of a single or multiple clouds.”
- How does this not include pretty much any app and SaaS app built on even a single cloud?
The Goldman Sachs Exemption looms large (appearing in half the latest sentences, perhaps Goldman’s “Financial Cloud for Data” is the Platonic form of the “supercloud”?), but suffers from the usual ambiguity surrounding all things “supercloud”. Is this particular Goldman app the only single cloud exemption or does any app from the vampire squid get the exemption? Or can similar apps also get elevated to “supercloud” status despite only running on a single cloud? Do other such exempted apps have to dub themselves “clouds” or is there another secret handshake to get elevated to the “supercloud” club when only running on a single cloud?
I could go on. And on. The “supercloud” concept remains super sloppy and an ontological nothingburger. Neologisms aren’t helpful unless they delineate and illuminate in some precise way, and can be triangulated and contrasted with existing concepts and terminology. Without the ability to definitively identify what is and isn’t a “supercloud”, it is just marketectural noise pollution.
And unlike my last post, quibbling about “supercloud” isn’t a pretext for another discussion (sorry). But here are some definitions to close things out:
A nonsense word, originally used esp. by children, and typically expressing excited approbation: fantastic, fabulous.
Source: Oxford English Dictionary
A nonsense word, originally used esp. by analysts, and typically expressing excited approbation: fantastic, fabulous.