Avoiding cloud lock-in

Migrating applications and workload to a cloud provider has many benefits: scalability, flexibility, efficiency, and cost, to name a few.

However, businesses must manage the associated risks of potential cloud lock-in.

Lock-in is not uncommon and occurs when businesses become dependent on the products and services supplied by their provider.

This makes switching providers difficult, time-consuming, and disproportionately expensive (typically the result of proprietary technologies that are incompatible with those of other suppliers).

Supplier lock-in has hit the headlines recently with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Parler. Following a dispute over stored content, technology and cloud service provider AWS have shut down the social media networking site’s servers.

In a statement released by AWS they commented:

“we continue to respect Parler’s right to determine for itself what content it will allow on its site. However, we cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others. Because Parler cannot comply with our terms of services and poses a very real risk to public safety, we plan to suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, 10th January”

Apple and Google both also removed Parler from their App Stores.

This gave Parler a 24-hour window to find 300-400 new servers, ultimately an impossible feat and the company remain offline.

How do you avoid Cloud lock-in?

Go cloud-neutral

One practical way to mitigate the risk of Cloud supplier lock-in is to have/ build applications using “cloud-neutral” technology platforms.

These can work on standard, open-sourced tools and across multiple cloud providers, maintaining data in a readily accessible, non-proprietary format.

Benefits include the ability to transition workloads easily in the event of data breach or switching suppliers. This also gives the option to take applications “in-house” based on future business plans.

Should businesses need to move providers, there is also a significant cost-saving element to cloud-neutral applications. Without building cloud applications on provider-specific proprietary, businesses face lower transition and implementation costs associated with migrating or deploying other applications to the cloud. This also eliminates the need to rewrite applications.

Clear contracts are key

Businesses are urged to read the terms and conditions of their contract to understand how the process works should they choose to move providers.

Ideally the terms will provide flexibility and the necessary support to re-source and in-source cloud applications once the relationship has come to an end, including:

  • Termination assistance, including the provision of hosting services for a set period following termination or expiration of the services agreed
  • Assistance in facilitating the migration of applications in-house, or to a new provider
  • Cooperation with any successor provider or other third parties to facilitate transition, including preserving and providing access to customer data
  • A cost-effective transition, pricing for cloud services should be flexible enough to account for ramp-down of services during transition periods
The devil is in the detail

It is vital to ask more questions, your data is one of your most expensive assets, you need to know how it is stored and used, as well as how to extract it – just as you would with money.

If something did go wrong, how easily could you move to another provider and would you receive assistance in doing so?

Mark Wilkinson, Commercial Director of razorblue comments:

“The market is saturated with suppliers that ramp up the cost of cloud migration should clients wish to move.

It becomes a viscous cycle of promoting client retention, which in turn wins them more business.”

razorblue urges business leaders to ensure that their cloud platform is transferable, “We often pick up the pieces for businesses who have fallen into the lock-in trap and with cloud there is an awful lot to lose should something go wrong.

At razorblue we have the confidence in our capabilities to deliver and provide the best possible cloud service to our clients, ensuring all client applications work across other cloud platforms.”

razorblue continue to heavily invest in the latest cloud technologies, which sit on a resilient national network across each of their UK datacentres.