Cloud Vendor Lock-In | HelpSystems

Why Cloud Vendor Lock-In Might Not Be So Bad After All

IT professionals shouldn’t be scared to at least consider going all-in with one cloud vendor — some experts argue there are benefits that may outweigh the dependency.

“Avoid vendor lock-in.” That’s a common bit of advice experts commonly give to enterprises looking to make the IT migration to the cloud. For example, Joe McKendrick wrote on ZDNet that, “Along with security, one of the most difficult issues with cloud platforms is the risk of vendor lock-in. By assigning business processes and data to cloud service providers, it may get really messy and expensive to attempt to dislodge from the arrangement if it's time to make a change.”

Cloud vendor lock-in continues to slow the process of cloud adoption down, or even prevent businesses from migrating altogether. But how important is it for companies to avoid lock in? Are there benefits to going all in with a particular vendor?

Embracing Lock-In

Long before cloud computing came along, IT experts warned about relying too heavily on one particular vendor. Proprietary software vendors have used client dependency and licensing tactics to their advantage in the past, and this history has stuck with many IT decision-makers at large. Diversifying cloud resources just seemed like a natural safeguard in light of how prior third-party relationships once panned out, but some experts believe the caution may in fact hurt IT in the long run. 

“Applying such general advice to cloud computing as it stands today is a big mistake,” CEO at Navica Bernard Golden, wrote in a thinkpiece on TechBeacon. “Far from avoiding cloud vendor lock-in, IT organizations should embrace it.”

According to Golden, cloud migration is all about the services cloud providers offer their clients, and spreading IT resources across a number of providers does nothing to optimize the user’s infrastructure. In today’s IT climate, it isn’t enough to simply run your current operations at the lowest cost possible. Executives expect IT to deliver innovation and drive business initiatives, a goal that Golden argues is made more difficult by current IT philosophies. “The only way to really deliver next-gen applications is to take advantage of a provider’s higher-level services—a.k.a., embrace lock-in,” he wrote.

The Benefits of Going All In

Obviously, before you make the decision to go all in with a cloud vendor, you ought to do your research as to which provider will best fit your needs. Consider where you are developing your applications, which provider offers the most competitive pricing model, and how viable the provider will be moving forward. If you choose to go all in, ensure the vendor you pick will stick around for the long haul. Major providers like Microsoft and Amazon should certainly remain players in the field for the foreseeable future.

There remain risks to putting all your eggs into one cloud provider’s basket: shifting ownership of cloud resources is time-consuming and expensive, especially if you are contractually wedded to your provider. But while moving your IT processes to one provider will certainly make your operation dependent on that vendor, the savings that result from the velocity you can achieve may far outweigh the negatives of vendor lock-in. It won’t be true for every IT infrastructure, but it’s worth doing the research ahead of time to check if an all-in approach will ultimately save you money and enhance your agility.

Vendors also provide powerful proprietary capabilities that are far easier to implement and optimize across your applications if they are all contained under one cloud umbrella. There’s no point spending time energy and resources developing an in-house tool when your cloud vendor provides a native one with far more utility. Often these capabilities are not compatible with multi-cloud approaches, or at least do no work as efficiently as possible.

Making the Most of Your Network

In IT, no solution is one-size-fits-all. A virtually endless string of variables exist when deciding which IT infrastructure best fits your needs, but the end goals are always the same: creating a stable infrastructure in the most cost-effective way possible. In order to ensure you are getting the most out of whatever model you choose — hybrid cloud, on-premises, multi-cloud, or all-in — it is important to deploy powerful network monitoring software.

Learn how to optimize your cloud capacity