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What Independence in the Cloud Looks Like

Freedom in the cloud has some costs associated with it, though different costs than freedom overall...

Happy July 4th everybody! In celebration of our Day of Independence, Gathering Clouds thought we would explore what it takes to gain vendor freedom in the cloud context.

Vendor lock-in is a much discussed issue in the cloud. But on some level, the choices your company makes can determine the degree of lock-in you either exist in or feel on a day-to-day basis.

'Murica

Freedom in the cloud has some costs associated with it, though different costs than freedom overall...

There’s a strategic imperative around be agile in your cloud vendor relationships. Lock-in can be detrimental, especially when you reach the point that you do need to transition out of a certain cloud, due to scale or other requirements.

Perhaps your company has reached the scale where buying hardware and depreciating the costs are a smarter decision compared to continuing to rent infrastructure through AWS. What you buy might not work well with AWS, and the skills your internal team has developed might not (probably won’t) translate.

There are features in AWS that act as points of lock-in and it’s hard to get around these. They are amazing tools, but they don’t have easily paralleled equivalents like Elastic beanstalk, Elastic Map Reduce, S3, and so many more. Transitioning out of these services is difficult, especially when AWS makes it so easy to access all of them. Outside of AWS, there are 3 competing privatized cloud: Openstack, Cloud Stack and VMware. When it comes to MSPs, VMware is the lion’s share of the market.

The truth is that there is some lock-in that is chosen by the company looking to access cloud. This might be influenced by current technology – if your company has been running on VMware for a decade switching over to OpenStack might present more of a problem than the path of least resistance. Some of that decision though is also influenced by a desire to access certain tool sets.

However, there are ways to take a step back from the cloud platform itself. There are tools available that abstract the cloud layer, like Puppet or Chef, with which you can become more cloud agnostic, instead focusing on the automation and configuration management tools to run the infrastructure. This allows a company to focus above the cloud layer, gaining a degree of independence that utilizing the innate tools from any of the platforms wouldn’t deliver.

Another approach is to be cloud-centric, vendor agnostic. This approach allows you to lock into a product choice, say VMware, while being able to run across any number of MSPs that use VMware. You can take this approach with both OpenStack and Cloud Stack, though each platform has a smaller install based when compared to VMware.

Independence in the cloud is not a direct process. However, there are different paths by which a company can gain a degree of autonomy even when choosing one platform over another.

Thoughts? Agree/disagree? Let us know on Twitter @CloudGathering.

By Jake Gardner

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