Cloud Computing Means Vendor Lock-In, but It's Not All Bad
Moving from expensive on-premise infrastructure to cloud-based systems is supposed to offer enterprises a lot more flexibility, but there are tradeoffs.MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—The allure of cloud systems, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, is unmistakable. Companies can stop investing in expensive, hard-to-maintain data centers and move to the cloud where they only pay for the resources (compute power and storage) they need, and the vendor maintains the infrastructure. The value proposition is unmistakable and a growing number of cloud vendors are cashing in. But panelists here July 9 at the wrap-up of the two-day AlwaysOn Silicon Valley Innovation Summit said customers shouldn't have any illusions that by moving online to the cloud they are freer to move between competitive offerings—from AWS to Azure, for example. "From hardware to just about the application layer, I would submit the cloud introduces a level of vendor lock-in we've never seen before," said Abe Kleinfeld, CEO of GridGain, which specializes in in-memory data fabric. "Before you could choose the hardware, the network layer and more, and now it's all abstracted. Is that bad? That's up for discussion." There is a level of portability. Rajeev Madhavan, CEO of big data specialist Robin Systems, said there is a fair amount of application portability between cloud systems with containers. "But unless you get data portability, vendor lock-in is inevitable."
The reason, Madhavan said, is that it's not in cloud vendors' interest to make it easy for customers to move from one cloud system to another. "If you put 60 petabytes of data into a cloud system, you are locked in. It's not going to be easy to move, and it will be expensive. It's a great opportunity for a great solution. CIOs want this," he added, noting that his own company is focused on this area.