angel_2I guess no one has a clue what the increasingly fashionable term “cloud computing” means. At least, that’s the message we’re meant to take away from a new video from Cisco (embedded below), where many people are asked what cloud computing is, and most of the on-camera responses are confused, way out there, or both.

Here’s my favorite description: “Cloud computing is where God allowed all the clouds to be connected together by the angels.” I’m also fond of this one: “Computers that must float on parachutes up in clouds, or maybe dirigibles.” Yeah, dirigibles, that’s the ticket!

It looks like the video was recorded at the Cisco Live conference earlier this summer, so I’m assuming that most of the interviewees are more knowledgeable than they let on, but were encouraged to riff in a supposedly humorous way. And of course the video ends by pointing to the Cisco website promoting its own cloud computing products. (The company, which built its business around networking technology, is looking to expand into other areas such as security and the cloud.)

I don’t actually think it’s that hard to come up with a basic definition of cloud computing (here’s Gartner: “a style of computing where massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided ‘as a service’ using Internet technologies to multiple external customers”), but the video illustrates how malleable the term has become, and how different companies like to use different definitions that suit their needs. Hence the argument from folks like Google and OpSource that some technologies dubbed cloud computing don’t have much to do with the cloud at all.