Refuse to be a Cloud data hostage

April 27, 2012
By Edmund Tee

SaaS data lockYou should never be locked into one vendor, and should ALWAYS be able to walk away from a service provider that is providing service levels that are below par. But how realistic is that when it comes to cloud service providers?

If you’re not happy with the service that you receive, take your business elsewhere. That’s pretty much what Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said at an event organized by the company’s Amazon Web Services recently.

His exact words were: “You should keep your providers on their toes every day. If we are not delivering the right quality of services, you should be able to walk away. You, the consumer of these services, should be in full control. That is core to our philosophy.”

That comment created quite a stir in the cloud community. Most people agreed that, philosophically, Vogels was right – nobody wants to be pay big bucks just to be held hostage to a cloud vendor, regardless of whether it was for IaaS, Paas, or SaaS. For that matter, nobody wants to have to pay big bucks to break free, either!

A one-way SaaS ticket?

However, at least one commentator took issue with Vogels. In an article on GigaOm , Barb Darrow pointed out that those who have tightly integrated their SaaS applications, such as with ERP Cloud for instance, with AWS would have a much harder time switching IaaS providers.

Darrow quoted the CMO of VoltDB, Fred Holahan as saying: “Depending on the level at which you’re building software, you might be quite insulated from the details of the underlying infrastructure, but part of the objective of a platform vendor is to provide you with tantalizing services that lock you in.”

While many of the new AWS services do result in more tightly coupled scenarios between AWS and its customer data centers, there are ways to avoid vendor lock-in by planning ahead, both in the Cloud in general, but also in the ERP Cloud in particular.

Planning ahead to keep SaaS portable

Ensuring your organization’s ability to switch providers whenever it makes sense to do so entails a couple of things: planning ahead, and picking a provider that is committed to an open, interoperable framework.

With proper planning, your organization could turn the lights on for its alternative cloud so that it can run in parallel with the legacy provider, and have data written to both databases at the same time. That would allow a smoother transition for when there is a need to do so.

The other thing to consider is to drill down with the service providers of choice, and make sure that they take an open approach and are set up to compete based on the best product, the best service levels, and the best value over the long term, rather than luring you in with sweeteners, but making it painful to leave. This is especially relevant for SaaS applications and the ERP Cloud.

It might be a bit of a pipedream, but perhaps the open service provider that already has that perfect mix of product, service and value might just be able to turn openness and interoperability into a fourth competitive advantage!

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