Vendor lock-in has long been a dirty word in the IT industry. However, today, vendor lock-in has evolved to be of major concern to end users considering a move to the cloud, and it should raise questions in the minds of solution providers as well. In fact, in a recent survey, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) asked IT decision makers to name their top concerns about cloud. Not surprising, exit strategies (#1), contract lock-in (#4) and data ownership (#5) were top of mind when it came for their reasons to delay cloud deployments – all tightly connected to the issue of vendor lock-in.
A huge first step to avoiding vendor lock-in is understanding where cloud solutions are running. Unlike in the past, vendor lock-in is not about interoperability between infrastructure components; it is about being locked into a data center serviced – or even owned – by a single telecommunications carrier. While the cloud provider/carrier may be willing to provide discounts in order to get a solution provider’s business – both the cloud services and, more importantly, the telecommunications services – the decision to sign with that carrier locks in both the solution providers and their customers, and limits their ability to switch to a different carrier in the future.
Tread CarefullyVendor lock-in can happen very easily, especially as MPSs and solution providers focus their concerns on where their customer data is located, how it is secured, and whether it is easily accessible. More than one solution provider has simply overlooked the telecom lock-in factor, especially if the price is particularly appealing.
To avoid this situation, we advise solution providers to pick a cloud service that is running in a data center that offers interconnectivity from multiple carriers. Almost as important is a willingness on the part of cloud services providers to be supportive of a customer’s decision to switch carriers, as their carrier contracts allow, in the future. Remember those cloud concerns – exit strategies, contract lock-in and data ownership – and make sure you fully understand how your cloud services provider will handle those situations as well as your desire to have multiple carrier choices within that data center. They are all related. Taking those steps will ensure that your cloud services provider of choice recognizes and respects your ability to make independent decisions about the telecommunications carrier involved in the cloud solution, protecting both you and your customers from vendor lock-in.
Renee Bergeron is VP of managed services and cloud computing at Ingram Micro, overseeing such efforts as Ingram Micro Cloud. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual sponsorship program. Read all of Bergeron’s guest blogs here.