Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn shocked the western world about the conditions in Siberian prison camps in his three volume expose titled The Gulag Archipelago in the mid 20th century. The books ripped through the world, bringing to light the horrors of the gulags and the suffering of their prisoners. Isolated in Siberia, the prisoners felt completely alone, without any hope of escape. While in a vastly different way, some companies are getting forced into just such an isolated situation with their cloud vendor choices.
Cloud computing and storage has become a critical component for much of the business world. With the ability for employees to work remotely, interact seamlessly, and submit and receive feedback and work product any time of day, the cloud world has only just begun to grow, and should see massive future change.
With such a huge industry exploding with growth, a relatively small number of companies have come to dominate the marketplace. And while these few giants continue to move the technology forward, their customers have begun to find themselves in cloud vendor lock down, without the ability or option to change.
When companies find themselves in this spot, they are then hamstrung and kept from being able to make fast-moving choices to help create work flow, or price shop. This cloud vendor lock down can sometimes begin to feel like a one way trip to a Siberian gulag. No option for escape, rough conditions, and a life sentence.
There are several factors that make it tough to change vendors. But keeping these factors in mind when choosing a cloud vendor can help businesses make smart choices in how they structure their cloud services on the front end, and perhaps limit the cloud vendor lock down scenario.
For example, applications being built within cloud systems should be kept general, rather than platform specific. This is often a major hurdle in migrating a platform. When applications have been developed that are platform specific, they make migration virtually impossible. By generalising application builds, companies are able to migrate rapidly without lag in servicing.
Second, a focus on open platforms allows a company to keep applications moving on top of software, and therefore make them easier to rebuild, should a migration be in order. Open platforms can be run on top of existing cloud systems, and make applications easily portable.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, companies should be constantly working toward a meaningful exit plan. Getting out of a cloud vendor lock down can seem daunting and painful, but by planning and implementing a front-end exit plan, companies can prepare to succeed, should the need arise. As technology in the cloud computing world increases, companies will constantly need the ability to morph with the changes, and an exit plan will make that possible.
While it may not be quite as bad as Solzhenitsyn’s Siberian gulag, cloud vendor lock down can feel like a prison nonetheless. But a good plan, portable applications, and generalised programming can help solve this issue.
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