Skip navigation

One of my biggest frustrations lately is creating an analogy for cloud computing. The biggest challenge is explaining the role of a service catalog. I keep resting on an analogy that is apparently totally inappropriate - the analogy of custom tailored clothing.

Back in the day - or for some of the world, somewhere in Hong Kong today - you could order a custom suit. I remember my father doing that when I was a kid. The man would turn up with a collection of fabric swatches, and Dad would pick the color he liked. Then the tailor would take a million measurements - from his girth to his arm length - and then the questions began. Single or double breasted? Notched collar? Pleats? Cuffs, or straight hems?

I remember being amazed at the sheer number of options - they were often dizzying. The tailor, however, had some recommendations as well. "Most people these days do pleats and cuffs - it's very modern," he'd explain. It constrained the options and provided guidance.

In my mind, that's exactly what a service catalog should do. It should list all the options - and they should be just that customizable - for a cloud - and then constrain them appropriately for each user. Like some cloud equivalent of a wardrobe stylist that quietly says "With the.. ample nature... of your resource needs... you might consider this larger resource profile."

But, as it turns out, most people don't order custom suits. I haven't done so in my lifetime. So, the "bespoke cloud" analogy seems to be moot. Lately I've been toying with another alternative - the ice cream sundae. Also a pleasure of my youth, before the tragedies of my own girth caught up with me, I loved constructing my own sundae at the ice cream parlor...

What's your favorite cloud analogy? Help a curmudgeon out...


To weigh in, comment below! I'll begrudgingly read your thoughts. To suggest a rant - email me at