The Problem with Being Locked in to a Proprietary Cloud Vendor

If you’re a business owner or executive, you want to choose website developers, hosting companies and cloud computing providers that will support your business for the long term. Of course, it’s conceivable that in some cases a relationship with a cloud vendor won’t work as you expect. Therefore, no matter what industry you’re in, it’s imperative to the long-term success of your business that you maintain flexibility as technology changes. Nowhere is this more important than when you are dealing with cloud vendors.

What does it mean to be “locked in”?

Some cloud vendors, like Google and Amazon, have their own proprietary cloud technology, which is great for them, but not necessarily so good for you. The fact that their technology is proprietary means that no other providers offer compatible services. As a result, once you get your system set up and customized, it’s going to be a big hassle if you ever want to switch to a new provider.

When you’re dealing with a concept that’s developing and changing as quickly as cloud computing, you definitely don’t want to be tied to a single proprietary technology. You need to be able to change and adapt; and just as importantly, you want your provider to feel the pressure to keep pace with the rest of the industry.

Why is being locked in a problem?

There are a few obvious drawbacks to using a proprietary cloud vendor. For example, you may find a less expensive provider with better features in the future, but you won’t be able to switch without completely restructuring your system. In addition, when you’re working with a proprietary provider, you’re depending on them to give you the features, updates and technological advances that you need. Unfortunately, their goals and priorities aren’t necessarily the same as yours. They may not move as quickly as you need. In fact, they may not have enough customers requesting the same advances you need, which means they won’t be willing to invest in the development until it makes financial sense for them to do so.

How can you avoid being locked in?

If you haven’t yet entered into an agreement with a proprietary cloud vendor, you have an easy solution: avoid them from the start. Instead, look into working with a company like Rackspace. The entire business model of companies like this is built around an “Open Cloud,” which means they can offer an array of features that proprietary providers cannot. Since they use open source cloud technology, you can quickly and easily switch providers as often as you choose. Pricing is often scalable according to your needs, and features and applications are much easier to develop and implement.

If you’ve already entered into an agreement with a proprietary provider, don’t panic. The first step is to develop a plan for migrating your infrastructure to a provider that uses open technology. Depending on your level of in-house expertise, you may have to contact the providers you’re considering and have an in-depth conversation with them about the things you need to change to make the transition easier.

A successful migration will take some time and effort, but it’s better to begin the process as soon as possible. After all, the transition is only going to get harder as your infrastructure becomes more complex – and the longer you wait, the more likely it is that your competitors will gain an advantage because of their increased flexibility and agility.

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