Three Warning Signs You’re Being “Catfished” By a Fake Cloud Vendor

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Warning TapeThe cloud is your dream date. You can see a future together. Kids. Puppies. No costly infrastructure and resources needed to maintain on-premise software. It’s a chance to focus your precious human capital (namely engineers) on critical core business activities.

But what if the cloud solution you just convinced your business to buy is no cloud solution at all, but a charlatan in cloud clothing?

Maybe you just got catfished.

You know, when an online contact presents themselves as something they're not, to get you to fall in love?

As a painful confession, I've personally been “catfished” plenty of times — three times in the last week alone. Online predators take advantage of my naïve desire to believe what I’m told. So, I sympathize with customers embarrassed after being sold expensive antiquated software bandaged together with an incompatible delivery platform.

A fake cloud solution can leave a company bankrupt and devastated just like me — a hurt and emotionally betrayed victim of catfishing.

A NetSuite article “How to Tell a True Cloud Solution From a Fake One-and Why It Matters” and the recent CIMdata analyst report “All PLM Clouds Are Not Created Equal” highlight the dangers inherent in fake cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions alike, as well as the critical differences between cloud pretenders and cloud contenders.

Here’s how the two reports explain the difference between fake and real clouds: true cloud solutions are built from the ground up to perform better as a fully hosted solution with maintenance and management across hundreds of servers and data redundancy in multi-tenant cloud environments.

FakeFake cloud vendors, on the other hand, frantically attempt to pass off on-premise solutions, which were never designed to be managed or hosted, as cloud solutions by clandestinely placing the software on the servers of third parties. More cloud pretenders are devising similarly deceptive, nuanced ways to capitalize on the naivety of a market that craves all things “cloud”.

Some might ask why the fakers don’t build their own cloud solution. The answer? It’s hard, expensive and takes a very long time. According to one Gartner report, developing a true PLM cloud solution can take almost a decade to reach their ‘Plateau of Productivity’.

Unfortunate companies betrayed by a fake cloud solution quickly experience an unexpected gloomy thunderstorm of painful upgrades and updates, lengthy downtime, costly and unstable integrations/customizations, and sometimes security breaches — all compounded by woefully inadequate support.

I’m here today to share with you the three warning signs to look for to avoid being hustled by a fake cloud practitioner.

Warning #1: The vendor explicitly avoids discussing multi-tenancy.

According to NetSuite, “Despite what fake cloud vendors will tell you, multi-tenancy matters. For example, with a true cloud provider, all customers typically access the same solution from the same cloud. This gives customers continuous and instantaneous access to the latest product upgrades.”

What is multi-tenancy? Simply put, it’s an architecture in which a single instance of software serves multiple customers who — like an apartment complex — are called tenants. That’s all it means. Why is that important? A vendor has a single-minded focus on one code base and platform to make rock–solid with all customers accessing the latest version with the latest updates. If a vendor is working on dozens of different versions for each and every company, each one ends up never being completely buttoned-down.

Behind the curtain of a fake cloud vendor, it’s a circus sideshow. Instead of acrobats spinning multiple plates on sticks and contortionists bending themselves for the entertainment of others, there is an overtaxed team of engineers frantically bending over backwards to manage scores of instances — each requiring patching, fixing, and maintaining with each additional customization and optimization. In so doing, this increases the risk of becoming even more brittle and breaking during an upgrade because the application was never intended to be in the cloud.

Fake cloud vendors will often disparage multi-tenancy or dance around the subject. They will rely on subterfuge when questioned about multi-tenancy.

Sound suspicious? It should.

In addition to multi-tenancy, customers should also ask the vendor if they own and manage their own server farm.

Asking where the vendor’s software is hosted is a seemingly obvious but often forgotten question. The reason it’s important is because true cloud vendors own their own servers and have appropriate backup, security testing, failover protocols and have totally different geo location back-up sites. They are also more scalable and reliable than third parties hosting the vendor’s fake cloud solution.

One easy trick to uncover a fake cloud provider

Warning SignHere’s the test: simply request a free trial of the solution. If it’s a fake cloud vendor, you’ll immediately notice micro beads of sweat on their upper lips. Then they’ll begin to hyperventilate as if you’ve asked them for the average flying speed of an African swallow (Monty Python reference – ed.). The truth is the complexity of a fake cloud makes it almost impossible for the fakers to provide a free trial.

Real cloud providers can offer prospects a free trial using a subset of their own data. Ta-dah! – now you have an easy trick to expose a fake cloud vendor.

Similarly in the online world, if a scammer dodges questions about why they can’t meet in person or makes excuses that prevent them from talking by phone, or don’t know what Skype is, then you’re likely being catfished.

The bottom line is, if a vendor is not multi-tenant or refuses to answer the question of multi-tenancy or can’t provide a quick and easy free trial — they are not a true cloud vendor.

Warning #2: The vendor does not seem to have recent innovative customers who can speak to the true benefits of their “cloud” solution.

A real cloud vendor should have customers that can speak in private specifically to the benefits of:

  • No painful upgrades
  • Ability to add (or subtract) five or five thousand licenses in the blink of an eye
  • Reliable, secure and speedy browser access to systems anytime, anywhere
  • Easy integration with other applications
  • Better ROI than on-premise

If a fake cloud vendor offers a customer reference who starts by asking, “So, what version are you using?” then you’re talking to a customer who has been fooled without knowing it. Shun them.

FingerprintAt Arena, we provide customer references to validate the value of our cloud solution. If a vendor shrinks from providing “cloud” customer references — something is wrong. In the online world, scams usually consist of a person faking their identity. If they don’t have pictures, contacts, friends and relatives on their social profiles, they are probably a scammer…or a personal injury lawyer.

Warning #3: The vendor’s story seems too good to be true.

Many so-called cloud ERP or PLM systems will blur the lines between true cloud and fake cloud with marketing materials that feature puffy white clouds (oftentimes with a smiley face) and use all the right cloud buzzwords, such as “host”, “manage” and “maintain”; however, if these vendors aren’t managing the iron themselves and are not multi-tenant — they aren’t the real McCoy. With a true cloud provider, all customers have access to the same solution, giving customers continuous and instantaneous access to the latest product upgrades, updates and security advances.

A true cloud vendor should be transparent, and demonstrate longevity as well as stability to ensure you don’t end up high and dry. You can search online ( to determine the funding and size of the vendor’s team. Determine how long they’ve been around and if they only focus on PLM.

Online, the too-good-to-be true pitch (that I’m a sucker for) usually starts out like this: “You look like you're lonely — your life must be just awwwful. I bet you go to bed early just to escape the solitude. Do you spend your Sunday afternoons in front of the TV, filling the crushing void of your empty existence with ice cream and fatty snacks?

I love you. We should get married.

Please give me your PIN.”

Before you know it, I’ve wired them half my savings account and am eagerly searching for wedding bands. But you know what really hurts? This scammer made me think they really cared about me.

Remember this: while all people (except catfishers) are created equal — the same can’t be said about all so-called ‘cloud’ vendors. Once you realize you’re dealing with a scammer, my advice is to disengage immediately. Pull the closest fire alarm and run.

Repeat positive affirmations to yourself. You are worth a real cloud solution. And — dog-gone it — people like you.

And for everyone except the catfishers out there — the average speed of an African Swallow is 24 MPH.

You’re welcome.

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About the Author

John Papageorge
John Papageorge has worked at some of the biggest names in the high tech industry, launching products and programs for companies, such as Oracle, HP, Cisco, and Microsoft. John's passion ... Read More 

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