Introduction

Have you seen how one plus phone can be charged through only a particular charger lead and not through Samsung or other phone charger leads? How certain shows are only available on Netflix, and you can’t see the same without purchasing its subscription? Similarly, How are some apps only android friendly or iOS-friendly? Basically, even if you like a certain app better, but if it’s not ios friendly, you won’t be able to use it on your phone. This is basically what you call a vendor lock in.

  1. What does vendor lock in mean?
  2. What is vendor lock in, in cloud computing?
  3. Why is vendor lock in a concern?
  4. How can companies avoid the risk of vendor lock in?

1. What does vendor lock in mean?

A vendor lock in means building dependency of the consumer for vendor products and services so that switching vendors would imply high costs for the consumer. It is a way of locking in the customer so that it becomes impractical for the customer to exit the vendor services regardless of quality. 

2. What is vendor lock in, in cloud computing?

Cloud computing means different service deliverable modules that are available for access to consumers through the Internet. In other words, it means relieving your computer’s hard drive and storing and accessing data over the internet. 

Vendor lock in is one of the barriers to cloud computing. A vendor lock in cloud computing means creating such barriers by the vendor on its applications, making accessing data impracticable for the users through other vendors. Any customer, if it wants to transfer to different cloud technology and has stored its data in particular cloud technology, faces lots of constraints like costs, legal issues due to vendor lock in in that particular cloud computing. To avoid such cost and legal issues user tends to stay with the particular vendor only regardless if he is satisfied or not. 

3. Why is vendor lock in a concern?

Vendor lock in tends to restrict the mobility and freedom of the user, and this is the reason it has become a matter of concern. Some of the other fears related to vendor lock in are as follows  :

1.Whole  Portfolio at one place

It is a popular quote that you should never put all your eggs in one basket. Hence putting the whole database in one cloud technology binds the user from trying out any different server with better technology in the future.

2. Failure of Vendor server 

Since our whole data is stored in one place so if the vendor server fails, then that puts the whole database at risk. A user may lose some of its data or won’t be able to access it till the server is down.

3. Declining Quality of Vendor’s service

In customer satisfaction, it’s always quality over quantity, and when the customer is not satisfied, he rapidly moves to another vendor who can provide the quality. But this cannot happen with vendor lock in. The customer has to live with the deteriorating quality or the inability of the vendor to reach a certain desired standard of services.

4.Vendor going out of business

That’s one of the greatest fears in customer’s minds. A user sticks with a particular vendor to avoid risks like data transfer risk or infrastructure transfer risk, or application risk, and this makes the thought of the vendor going out of business scarier. 

4. How can companies avoid the risk of vendor lock in?

1. Research and More Research

Before opting for any cloud server, one should do proper due diligence in regards to what are your current requirements and future goals. Understanding varied service level agreements provided by different vendors helps in minimizing the risks associated with vendor lock in.

2. Flexible applications

Design your applications in such a way that if the need arises to transfer the same to a different vendor, they could be easily reconfigured. Basically, the objective should be to move your applications with ease without loss of data.

3.Exit Strategy Plan

Before entering into any agreement with a vendor, an exit strategy should be properly devised in case of any future contingencies. This would involve any possible expenses that may have to be incurred if things don’t work out.

4. Data portability

Data transfer risk is one of the crucial risks associated with vendor lock in. It is definitely not an easy task to move data from one cloud to another. Hence the fear of losing the format of data or losing the functionality of data while extracting and the costs of all this should be reviewed carefully before selecting a vendor.

5. Multi-fold Cloud Strategy

This means running your database through more than one cloud operator. This would automatically reduce the dependency on one vendor.

6. Data Backup and Storage Policy

While choosing a vendor, always find out what is the vendor data backup policy. Also, where is all the data stored by the provider. These questions help you to have better control over your database.

Conclusion

Vendor lock in like a marriage document, and to mitigate the financial risks, we need to have a prenuptial agreement in place. We can’t foresee the risks, but we can always implement tools like DevOps to reduce such risks. Just devise and implement a good strategic plan, and you are good to go.

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