Vendor Lock-in Isn’t a Reason to Avoid Cloud
A lot of the concerns businesses have about cloud disappear when you examine the facts more closely. For example, worries about cloud security kept many businesses from using the cloud fully—until it became clear that information security in the cloud is no worse, and likely better, than information security in the data center.
Vendor lock-in is another consideration that can keep businesses from using the cloud fully, and like security, the concern largely goes away when you look at the issue more closely. In many ways, the lock-in issue is no worse than in the data center, and in some ways it’s even better.
Consider these points:
You’re locked into vendors in your data center, too.
Do you really think you aren’t locked into your vendors in the data center? How much effort would it take to migrate from one vendor to another? Think about the time and effort spent when you deploy upgrades, then think about how much more time and effort would be needed to adapt to another vendor’s product. In addition, businesses often try to settle on a single vendor, such as a single backup solution, in order to minimize training and management difficulties.
Your financial commitment is less in the cloud.
Sunk costs are a big factor that makes change hard, and your sunk costs are much greater in the data center than in the cloud. In the data center, you have large outlays of money for outright purchase of hardware and software, as well as contracts committing spending on maintenance and support. The money spent is gone, and breaking contracts has its own costs. In the cloud, you have the flexibility to alter your usage and your spending from minute to minute, not just annually or when contracts expire.
Many cloud offerings aren’t unique.
While getting data out of cloud has its challenges, leaving a cloud provider doesn’t mean rewriting everything from scratch. It’s true some cloud services are unique, but not all users of cloud are tied to those unique functions. If you took the “easy” approach of lifting and shifting systems to the cloud or use containers, your application architecture probably isn’t cloud-specific. If you’re using third-party products as a service in the cloud, most of those products are available from multiple cloud providers as well as traditional software.
The net effect of these factors is that the ties to a specific cloud may not be as tight as you think. The risk of cloud vendor lock-in can be further mitigated by keeping that risk in mind as you develop and implement your cloud strategy. Multicloud can be complex to implement, but if you don’t want to be tied to a single cloud vendor, it’s better to build that in as part of your strategy than to struggle to migrate systems urgently.
For most businesses, the vendor lock-in concerns of cloud aren’t a good reason for avoiding cloud services. Instead, cloud services should be evaluated the same way as any other technology offering: does it provide a technical solution you need at a price you can afford?