Sudhir Vallamkondu
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Sudhir Vallamkondu
At the last AWS re:Invent conference I heard a quote that right now, AWS looks like a "benevolent dictator" driving the public cloud market agenda but people are worried that there's a fine line between a benevolent dictator and a plain-old dictator. The good old vendor lock-in fear came up in many conversations I had during the conference with attendees. This seems odd though because one of the benefits of the cloud specifically was to avoid lock-in and make applications more portable. Whenever you talk about vendor lock-in, you are talking about your migration costs if ever you needed to walk away from your current service provider. When you realize you are locked in, then it becomes very expensive. The solution to prevent vendor lock-in is to be aware of vendor and technology lock-in in the design, architecture, and implementation decisions that you make, especially the large and core ones. I am not advocating shunning public clouds, but I would like more people to go in with eyes wide open. Cloud providers are going at war (on both features/price) and the best seat in the theatre belongs to the ones that are not locked in.

There are a few reasons why someone would want/ be forced to migrate

A competitor cloud provider has just announced a new region that is geographically apt for your performance needs.
The cloud provider you currently use has a new product offering that competes with your core business/customers. Think Amazon Cloud Drive vs. Dropbox, Amazon music vs. Spotify, Amazon Prime Video vs. Netflix. While its not required that you migrate, strategically it makes sense to migrate.
Change in provider prices. Remember the Google App Engine price hike that caused a huge vocal outrage. While this is unlikely to happen given the ensuing cloud competition, one must still be prepared.
A M&A scenario where parent company will eventually force migration to one vendor. Cloud providers offer substantial discounts based on your annual spend limits and bigger spends get bigger discounts. From a parent company perspective, consolidating providers to one provider will consequently bring substantial savings.
One of your key product differentiators is performance and you can only tune so much with a provider black box system. This was the reason cited by Dropbox for their migration away from AWS. Companies like Dropbox are scrutinizing the true value of what AWS provides and weighing that against the costs and limitations of what they can get out of that platform. For startups, SMBs, and mid-market companies, the clear risk and enormous costs of building a custom infrastructure is just not a reasonable technology strategy however companies with deeper technology roots have done their due diligence and chosen to leave AWS.

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