Cloud Hype Series Part III: Keyword Search Volume

In this series thus far, I’ve been discussing the hype around the “Cloud” in terms of the Gartner Hype Cycle. In Part I, I introduced the Gartner Hype Cycle and in Part II I wanted to push discussion beyond trying to position the Cloud on the initial hype peak – to start looking at the other segments of the Gartner Hype Cycle. In this post, I thought I’d examine hype in a different way by looking at keyword search volumes.

One indicator of the buzz or hype of a particular technology can be examined by the search volume of keywords in popular search engines. Google has just this type of tool with their Google Trends. With this tool, you can compare different search terms against each other and view how the search volume changes over time. Google tracks the keywords use in the News as well.

Can you see hype peaks in search volumes?
I first tested to see if a “hype peak” is visible by using the keyword “web 2.0” as an example. The Google Trends report produced the chart below.

In this chart, the blue curve represents the Google search volume of the keyword “web 2.0”. You can see that the search volume reached a peak in 2007 and is decreasing now. Plotted alongside in red is the search volume for the keyword “cloud computing”. Here we witness the growing buzz surrounding “the Cloud” from 2007 and the search volume has reached about the same level as “web 2.0”. You can see in the News that the “Cloud” is being reported on more than “web 2.0”.

Cloud Computing vs. Virtualization
The Cloud and Virtualization are both hot topics of the day.  So I ran the keywords “Cloud Computing” against “Virtualization” in Google Trends. In blue below, you see the same results of “Cloud Computing” search volume as above. In red, you see the results of search volume for the keyword “Virtualization”

You can see that “virtualization” has been discussed in the news and has general interest of the public since 2004 but the rise in buzz has been slow as compared to the rapid rise in hype surrounding the Cloud.  You can see that even in the News, the term “Cloud Computing” is being used more than “Virtualization” in recent times.

Cloud Computing vs. Grid Computing vs. Utility Computing
The concept of “Cloud Computing” isn’t new. In some of its prior forms many referred to the same technology as “Grid Computing” and “Utility Computing”.  So I ran a report against these terms and below is the result. In red is “Cloud Computing” and in blue is “Grid Computing” and in orange is “Utility Computing”.

You can see that the search volume for “Grid Computing” has been ongoing since prior to 2004, but not capturing the imagination like “Cloud Computing” (of course we don’t see data before 2004) And “Utility Computing” appears on the scene later in 2004, but doesn’t even register a blip when compared to Grid and Cloud computing. The Cloud is just sexier than a Grid or a Utility.

VPS and HyperV
Virtualization has enabled a new hosting segment of Virtual Private Servers or VPS hosting. And Microsoft has recently released its Windows 2008 HyperV server. So I overlaid these two keywords on top of the Cloud Computing vs. Virtualization plot. Here in blue is “Cloud Computing”, in red is “Virtualization”, in orange is “VPS”, and in green is “HyperV”.

You can see the public’s interest in “VPS” was high even before 2004 and has increased slightly in recent years, but “Cloud Computing” is surpassing the buzz of VPS. The plot also shows that the public search volume of “Virtualization” is slightly higher than “VPS”. “HyperV” appears on the scene in 2008, but the search volume is low compared to the other terms.  And you can also see what is being reported on in the news – Virtualization and Cloud Computing – hands down.

Dedicated Server and Managed Hosting
If we now compare “Cloud Computing” against “Dedicated Server” and “Managed Hosting”, this is the result. In blue we have “Cloud Computing”, in red is “Dedicated Server” and in orange is “Managed Hosting”.

While “Dedicated Hosting” searches register prior to 2004, we see that it peaked in 2004 and the search volume is declining.  “Managed Hosting” searches arise in 2004, but the search volume is not so high. In recent times, searches for “Cloud Computing” dominates in public search and in mention in News.

Fun with Google Trends: Is Cloud Computing just Water Vapor?
Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, went on a hilarious rant last year when he claimed the Cloud was nonsense and called it “water vapor.” So for fun I ran those two terms against each other. In blue you have “Cloud Computing” and in red you have “Water Vapor”.

Regardless of how Larry Ellison feels about it, the public and the news is buzzing with the Cloud. Water Vapor – not so much.

Final Thoughts
In this post I explored another tool that can be used to look at hype through the lens of what information the public is looking for in Google search. We did see a buzz peak for the keyword “web 2.0” but we only saw a general upward or downward trends for the other keywords we looked at.  For the keyword searches on the decline, since we don’t have the data prior to 2004, we can’t see where they peaked. For those keyword searches on the rise, only time will tell when these terms will peak.

While the technology of virtualization is empowering businesses to host in Cloud-like environments, the hype around the Cloud is higher than searches for “virtualization” so it’s no wonder that you see daily press releases from vendors introducing some Cloud technology or service. Everyone is trying to capitalize on this buzz. So too are dedicated hosting and managed hosting companies. Many of them are launching some form of Cloud hosting services or renaming their products under the Cloud banner to capitalize on the hype.

But even though the Cloud is all the rage in the news and the unsexy “Web Hosting” is not being reported on much, even in its decline “Web Hosting” (red) is still commanding more searches than “Cloud Computing” (blue).

Takeshi Eto
VP Marketing and Business Development

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