During our cloud advisory projects, we frequently address concerns of "lock-in" to prospective single cloud providers. Optimizing vendor relationships in a modern IT environment can be challenging, so keep in mind some aspects of this multi-sided problem.
Whether it’s a core infrastructure system, application layer component, or management tool, most of the traditional IT technologies are accompanied by various levels of lock-in. Selecting technology vendors for not only their current functionality but future roadmap and business prospects can help ensure that you're building a fruitful long-term partnership.
Cloud provider infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings are typically easier to move to and away from, as they provide commodity compute and storage services, while leaving the "customizable" parts (operating system and applications) of the solution to be fully controlled by our clients. While virtual machine formats are different for each platform (hypervisor and/or cloud platform), tools exist to copy and customize virtual machine images to enable relatively easy "lift and shift" migrations.
The higher in the application stack you use cloud provider offerings, the more difficult it is to migrate functionality and data away from them. Some cloud provider SaaS and PaaS services are mere utilities, while some provide the core of application and data management functionality. Regardless of its complexity, a key selling point of these hosted services are the advanced functionality they can provide at a lower cost level than internally constructing and managing an equivalent.
Ensure your service choices provide not only their promised functionality but the anticipated cost efficiencies. While a rapid migration away from services that fall out of favor is not always an option, ensure that your technology selections do have methods for exporting data and code.
We see larger clients adopt a hybrid cloud strategy (more than one public cloud provider), to "hedge their bets" on cloud providers. This strategy can be fruitful from a cost perspective, as few things focus IT vendors than the prospect of competition in a targeted market.
While a hybrid cloud strategy may provide relationship and cloud provider spend benefits, consider the full costs of maintaining more than one public cloud environment. Core foundational elements (connectivity, identity management, management tools, etc.) may have to be duplicated, along with the processes and skills required to manage multiple environments while maintaining service levels.
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