Sometimes industry buzzwords drive me nuts because they are vapor (do I even need to mention my thoughts on "web 2.0?") But sometimes they are valuable because they describe an inelegantly articulated concept. Cloud Computing, for example. If we had to refer to it as "network distributed processing of content delivered online" (or somesuch), it might get a little tedious. So in this case, I find value in the term, even if there are slight variations in the explanation.
Is it dismaying that someone like Larry Ellison would express that he doesn't know what Cloud Computing is but if he did know, it would be crap (OK, OK, I am paraphrasing . What he really said is this: "I have no idea what anyone is talking about. It's really just complete gibberish. What is it?...When is this idiocy going to stop?") Hellz yeah! Certainly not what I would expect of the CEO of a major server company. It is either extremely concerning, if it's about his capacity to understand (and come on, do you think we are stupid?), or ridiculously flippant and contrary; perhaps because he didn't get to name it himself. I know that being snotty as it relates to competitors is part of his personal brand, but this time it was at the expense of his credibility. In my opinion.
Look, I am not technical...at all. And as someone who works at a competing company, I kind of enjoy the idea of Marc Benioff getting a little bunched up over not leading in this space (though he is a Trojan, so you know, I want to take it easy on him). I would hope that we would have the same reaction if we didn't have people totally entrenched in this space. But I get the value derived from the cloud; increased processing efficiency = better performance = I can get more stuff done. As Hammer says, "break it down!'
So I guess my points are that if the term seems ambiguous, the explanation is out there and if I can understand it, chances are that you can as well. There's value in that cloud. And also, if being a grumpy gus is part of your personal brand (which frankly makes sense for a blogger or a comedian, but a CEO?), pick your opportunities because using your surly snark at the wrong time could totally impact your credibility. Talking like Barbie is not a strategy for a tech CEO.