In its early days, when IT was overly fond of technical jargon, magazine features and advertisements were overflowing with terms such as “megabytes per second” and “POSIX compliance”, much to the delight IT practitioners.

But perceptions changed and it soon became clear IT was a driver of business and that IT managers were an integral part of the corporate decision-making process. So the marketing approach changed to reflect less technical and more approachable language. But the pendulum may have swung too far in the other direction, with marketing terms in use now that encompass so many ideas that they are meaningless.

Today, fashionable umbrella terms have become so commonplace that they serve no useful purpose when a more nuanced discussion is needed, be it from a technical or non-technical standpoint.

The Cloud and Edge Computing?

The most egregious example of terminology bloat is the term ‘cloud’. For years professionals have tried to define the term ‘cloud’, most notably vendors who wanted to it to mean something that aligned with their products and services. Today, the term has almost no real definable meaning – much like the trend of adding “e” as a prefix to products and services in the 2000s.

The industry’s latest umbrella term is ‘edge computing’. What is edge computing? There is no point in trying to offer a definition here – it would be wrong in a hundred cases. What you need to do when a vendor or news article tries to tell you how much you need edge computing is to focus. Focus on the use case for your business or industry.

It is regrettable that ‘the cloud’ and ‘edge computing’ have become essentially meaningless marketing terms, but it doesn’t mean that the IT solution being offered won’t serve your business well.

The technical and practical ideas behind things like ‘edge computing’ are sound, but vary a great deal depending on business-use case.

It pays to focus on what the vendor is offering to address your circumstances. Vendors that can’t give use cases with benefits and only want to talk in broad terms should be shown the door. Keep any general discussion to your industry and aim to focus on your specific needs. Keep vendors focused on the task at hand by showing you how they can define and fix your problems, and let the marketing jargon drift into the clouds, where it belongs.