Can we just shut up about cloud already?

Ah, remember the good old days of cloud washing? That’s when vendors attached “cloud” to whatever service they had whether or not it was an accurate descriptor. The feeling was folks would buy Cloud Email Service when they wouldn’t buy Acme E-mail Service even if the two were exactly the same.

Well guess what? The bloom is off that rose and vendors might be well advised to drop the cloud label if they want to sell stuff. Dave Ohara, a GigaOM Research analyst and founder of GreenM3 sure thinks so, as he set forth in a recent blog post in which he recommends cloud erasing as a sales strategy.

The assumption that everyone is clamoring for cloud is wildly inaccurate, he wrote:

“To some the Cloud means it is not secure, it goes down, and it is not as good as legacy systems. Thanks to AWS(s amzn) outages, Clouds are perceived as not as reliable by many.  Microsoft(s msft), Google(s goog), and Twitter have had outages and the media jumps on it.  Cloud services like LinkedIn(s lnkd) have had security breaches.  Perception is reality.”

NSA’s PRISM-gate has also had a big impact. When it comes to cloud paranoia folks in the U.S. are playing catchup to Europeans who have always looked at cloud — or outsourcing in general — with suspicion, especially since the U.S. Patriot Act was enacted in 2001. The prospect of U.S. agencies perusing European citizens’ data was distasteful then and has only gotten worse since the NSA disclosures.

Some GigaOM reader comments show this resurging distrust of cloud. In response to Kevin Fitchard’s recent story on a possible cloud-based “personal assistant” from Microsoft , one commenter wrote: “Cloud based? No thanks.” Another chimed in with: “Because the concept of a cloud AI knowing a lot about human beings couldn’t possibly end in the destruction of all that we know and cherish.”

And if you scroll down the comments on Kevin’s Google Project Loon story you’ll see just how nervous the prospect of an all-knowing cloud provider is to many people.

So, in the face of this growing paranoia — and remember being paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you — Ohara has advice for vendors and IT pros: Stop saying cloud unless you’re sure your audience wants to hear it. Otherwise focus on what the service actually does, what value it provides and its advantages over the competition.

Seems so simple right? Too bad no one seems to be listening.