Consider this scenario: You sign up with a cloud vendor for a cloud-based productivity tools that can help you to increase your team’s performance; the service costs you $20/month. Due to one reason to another, your cloud vendor is revising the service fee to $40/month. What would you do?
A worse scenario: You are a long time user of a cloud solution – your entire business is in the cloud, linked to the cloud solution. All of a sudden, your cloud vendor is undergoing a major restructure because it has been acquired by a bigger cloud vendor. One of the restructuring plans is to shut down a cloud solution you and your business use. What would you do?
Welcome to the world of cloud vendor lock-in.
What is cloud lock-in?
First things first – what is cloud lock-in? In essence, cloud lock-in refers to a situation in which a cloud customer is “stuck” to his/her current cloud vendor due to the complexity in switching to another cloud vendor.
Of course, you could “unlock” your business from your current cloud vendor – but that not without “sacrifices,” in term of time, money and effort – not mentioning the risks of losing and compromising the security of your sensitive data during the process.
Moreover, switching to another cloud vendor with different platform and features are headaches, not mentioning the data portability issues (portable data can be migrated easier.)
Some major cloud vendors, such as RackSpace, are developing a cloud platform on which cloud vendors can build cloud solutions upon, reducing the complexity of cloud lock-in. Collaborating with NASA – RackSpace launched OpenStack – open source cloud computing software.
When a customer is on an OpenStack-powered cloud vendor, switching to another cloud vendor that builds its services with OpenStack cloud software will find cloud lock-in no longer a threat.
However, many cloud vendors are running on different cloud platforms, making cloud vendor lock-in still a major problem.
More cloud service options = more potential cloud lock-in issues
Not always initiated by the cloud vendors, cloud lock-in can also be caused by the customer – you and me. With the bright future of cloud computing, you and I are exposed to plenty of choices. It seems that the new cloud services are better than before.
You say, “I gotta try this cool cloud solution!” – with the free trials and powerful tools, it’s appealing to sign up. Then you decide to move one or some of your business functions to the cloud.
The cloud is evolving fast, so you need to understand that there will always be “a greener pasture.” Then you decide to switch to the better cloud vendor.
Although those are logical actions (business owners want the best for their business, for sure!) they could expose their business to the risks of rising costs and implementation issues – both are risky for your business.
How to avoid cloud lock-in?
We need to do our due diligence before we jump into the cloud bandwagon. We need to know all possible pros and cons of taking your business to the cloud. The new cloud solutions are probably beneficial to your business, but be sure you know the risks of switching from your current cloud vendor to a new one.
Moreover, be sure to make a well-informed decision – or else, your decision will backfire and hurt your business that would take months, even years to recover.
More tips – Damian Crotty, President and Managing partner of VIFX, explains how to avoid cloud lock-in in this video:
Image: Danilo Rizzuti