Wednesday 20, September 2017 by Matthew Amlôt

Cloud lock-in, positive?

A brief search online comes up with competing answers as to whether companies should avoid vendor lock-in with cloud services or embrace it. Let’s examine a few of these reasons.

As a general guideline, avoiding lock-in to any one proprietary software vendor is typically the right approach to take. From the simple idiom ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ to more complex issues of vendors leveraging customer dependency.

An example that has often been used is the lawsuit filed by Mars in 2015 against Oracle, in which Oracle brought 233,089 pages of documents to support its audit case against Mars wherein it came out that Oracle had been demanding customer data from Mars that it had not been contractually obligated to do so.

However, due to the rapid advancing nature of IT, and the rate at which software is becoming more and more important, perhaps IT professionals need to look at embracing cloud lock-in and the bespoke advantages that it provides. We see this to a certain degree in the cybersecurity space, with organisations looking for several ‘best-of-breed’ solutions, rather than one bespoke solution.

Perhaps IT managers should take a page out of the consumer playbook and focus on integrated apps rather than the infrastructure. The magic that is the Open API world we are living in mean that a strong backbone can be enabled to provide a myriad of options. This strength can come through embracing a particular vendor and creating investing in the long-term.

There are examples of successful partnerships such as this. One famous case is that of Netflix’s rapid expansionary period. Netflix has been called the poster child for AWS integration—even stranger when you consider that Netflix is in direct competition with another of Amazon’s offerings, Amazon Prime.

At one point Netflix was expanding rapidly, with adding some million more subscribers a month. This meant that the company faced a problem with how to grow fast enough to provide its new subscribers with content. Previously the company had built all of its own technology in house and had assembled an excellent team of engineers, whom assured the company that they could build the new cloud-platform. However, with only some nine months in order to build the new solution, the company decided to look elsewhere, and hired Amazon and its data-centres.

To suggest that this partnership has not been profitable would be wholly incorrect, so perhaps a reassessment of IT management strategy is in order.

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