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To the surprise of few, Dell is losing its preliminary approval to trademark the phrase "cloud computing." The Patent and Trademark Office has sent the company a "non-final" refusal of its application to own the term. Dell has six months to submit counter-arguments or the PTO will abandon the application. The office's grounds for refusal is that the term is too generic. Generally speaking, commonly used words cannot be trademarked unless they are being used in an unexpected way.
One thing 30 years in the IT industry has taught me is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Another is that the only memory we seem to access is short-term. A third is that techno-marketeers rely on that, so they can put labels like "revolutionary" and "innovative" on platforms, products and services that are mere re-inventions of the wheel ... and often poor copies at that.
A good example is all the latest buzz about "Cloud Computing" in general and "SaaS" (software as a service) in particular:
Both terms are bogus. The only true cloud computing takes place in aircraft. What they're actually referring to by "the cloud" is a large-scale and often remotely and/or centrally managed hardware platform. We have had those since the dawn of automated IT. IBM calls them "mainframes":
The only innovation offered by today's cloud crowd is actually more of a speculation, i.e. that server farms can deliver the same solid performance as Big Iron. And even that's not original. Anyone remember Datapoint's ARCnet, or DEC's VAXclusters? Whatever happened to those guys, anyway...?
And as for SaaS, selling the sizzle while keeping the steak is a marketing ploy most rightfully accredited to society's oldest profession. Its first application in IT was (and for many still is) known as the "service bureau". And I don't mean the contemporary service bureau (mis)conception labelled "Service 2.0" by a Wikipedia contributor whose historical perspective is apparently constrained to four years:
Instead, I mean the computer service bureau industry that spawned ADAPSO (the Association of Data Processing Service Organizations) in 1960, and whose chronology comprises a notable part of the IEEE's "Annals of the History of Computing":
So ... for any of you slide rule-toting, pocket-protected keypunch-card cowboys who may be just coming out of a fifty-year coma, let me give you a quick IT update:
1. "Mainframe" is now "Cloud" (with concomitant ethereal substance).
2. "Terminal" is now "Web Browser" (with much cooler games, and infinitely more distractions).
3. "Service Bureau" is now "Saas" (but app upgrades are just as painful, and custom mods equally elusive).
4. Most IT buzzwords boil down to techno-hyped BS (just as they always have).
Bruce Arnold, Web Design Miami Florida