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Journalist Tom Henderson on Cloud Vendor Lock-In

There is little worse than deciding “you’ve had it up to here” with a particular vendor, only to discover that due to vendor lock-in, migrating away from the vendor’s proprietary platform would cost enough to put your company in the bankruptcy courts.

The Video FOSS Force Interview

This video is not technically about free or open source software, but it’s 100 percent about the danger of falling victim to proprietary vendors and their habit of making it hard to leave their sweet embrace once they get their paws on you. The Network World column by Tom Henderson that generated this interview is titled, The Many Dimensions of Cloud Value, and is subtitled, “Put your snorkels on: The marketing for cloud services is getting deep.” So is the marketing for many other proprietary something-as-a-something offerings ranging from operating systems to (obviously) cloud platforms.

We could subtitle this video, “Beware the ides of proprietary vendors,” but that would make more sense in March than in September, so we won’t.

One Comment

  1. Mike S. Mike S. September 29, 2016

    As a free software user and supporter, I think always choosing free software is the ethical choice.

    But if you are strictly looking to make a profit, vendor lock-in is an important consideration but not the only one. Take, for example, mobile applications for the iPhone. If you write them, Apple might block them for no reason. Apple might change an important API you use. Apple might screw up the iPhone application search feature so that users can’t find your application. They have all the power, you have none.

    But for a business indifferent to free software principles, that doesn’t mean “Never make an iPhone application” is necessarily the right strategy. Apple has tens of millions of users, and statistically those users spend more money on the Apple store than Android users do on Google Play. At least, that was true a few years ago – it may no longer be true. Sometimes you have to accept the risks of the walled garden for a shot at the reward.

    Conversely an independent mobile-friendly website might work better, but you have to market it yourself and HTML5 on an iPhone still aren’t suitable for some types of games.

    Likewise for “the cloud”, if you run your own servers you have the most control. If you use Eucalyptus or other software that tries to protect you from vendor lock-in by providing a generic API layer you can use you have a lot of control. If you use specific APIs from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc… you have the least control and the highest lock-in risk. But the freedom has opportunity costs – if you rent servers month to month, you can switch vendors instantly but you pay high monthly rates. If you rent in yearly or three yearly increments, you’re locked to a vendor or forced to take a big loss to exit a vendor, but the monthly cost is much lower.

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