Why cloud IT providers generate profits by locking you in, and what to do about it - Part 2 of 2

In the first article of this series, I spoke about how and why cloud IT providers use lock-in.  I'll briefly revisit this and then focus on strategies to maintain buyer power by minimizing lock-in. 

If you asked Kevin O'Leary of ABC's Shark Tank about customer lock-in with cloud providers , he might say something like:  

"You make the most MONEY by minimizing the cost of customer acquisition and maximizing total revenue per customer. COCA combined with lock-in lets them milk you like a cow."

In short, they want to make as much profit as possible. So what do you do about it?

1.   Avoid proprietary resource formats where possible.  For example, both AWS and VMware use proprietary virtual machine formats.  Deploying applications on generic container technologies like Docker and Google’s Kubernetes means you’ll have a much easier time moving the next time Google drops price by 20%

2.   Watch out for proprietary integration platforms like Boomi, IBM Cast Iron, and so on.  The more work you do integrating your data and applications, the more you’re locked in to the integration platform.  These are useful tools, but limit the scope each platform is used for and have a plan for how you might migrate off that platform in the future.

3.   Use open source where it makes sense. Like Linux, Openstack, Hadoop, Apache Mesos, Apache Spark, Riak and others provide real value that helps companies develop a digital platform for innovation.  The problem is that talent is a real problem with opens source and much of the tech is still immature. Companies like Cloudera can mitigate this but they have their own form of lock-in to watch out for in the form of “enterprise distributions”.

4.   Don’t standardize across the enterprise on proprietary platforms like MSFT Azure. Period. But don’t be afraid to use proprietary platforms for specific high impact projects if you have significant in house talent that aligned to that platform – while building expertise around alternatives like Cloud Foundry.

5.   Make sure your vendors and developers use standards based service oriented approach. Existing standards like JSON, WSDL, Openstack APIs and emerging standards like WADL, VMAN, CIMI should be supported to the extent possible for any technology you choose to adopt.