Avoiding the Dark Side of the Cloud: Platform Lock-In

Avoiding the Dark Side of the Cloud: Platform Lock-In

Avoiding the Dark Side of the Cloud: Platform Lock-In
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The rise of cloud computing is indisputable — driven primarily by the promise of agility in bringing new applications to market faster, and by more closely aligning expense with actual business usage. But moving to the cloud is not without risk. Many surveys, such as the MongoDB Cloud Brief discussed later, point at the fear of platform lock-in as one of the top inhibitors to on-going cloud adoption. Enterprises are turning to open source software to throw off the shackles of proprietary hardware and software. But they are also concerned about exposing the business to a new level of lock-in. This time from APIs and services of the cloud providers themselves.

In this blog, we explore the drivers and inhibitors of cloud adoption, as well as which factors are driving the fear of cloud lock-in. We’ll then discuss the steps users can take to get the best of both worlds – the business velocity provided by the cloud, without the risks of locking themselves into a specific vendor.

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So how quickly is the cloud growing? Recent analysis of the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) market by IDC (1) provides some interesting statistics:

If we contrast this with spending on “traditional” IT infrastructure, we see a forecast decline of 4.5% through 2016. Now is not a good time to be a peddler of premium IT hardware. By 2020, IDC expects total IaaS cloud spending to hit just under $60bn, making revenues (almost) as large as the traditional IT infrastructure sector.

Of course, the cloud is a natural home for startups building their businesses. I’m old enough to remember when early seed funding was dedicated purely to financing your own Sun hardware and Oracle software licenses so that you could actually demo your new concept. The thought of doing this today is laughable.

But it’s not just startups that are driving cloud growth. Research from RightScale (2) concluded that 17% of enterprises now have over 1,000 Virtual Machines (VMs) provisioned to public cloud providers, up from 13% of enterprises in 2015. Private cloud showed even stronger growth with 31% of enterprises running more than 1,000 VMs, up from 22% in 2015.

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Here at MongoDB, we’ve conducted our own research as we polled over 2,000 members of the MongoDB community. This research found that 82% of respondents were strategically using or evaluating the cloud today. This, and a multitude of other fun facts and insights are available in our MongoDB 2016 Cloud Brief.

As the Cloud Brief shows, the number one driver for cloud adoption is agility — the need to rollout new applications faster. This desire was reinforced at a recent meeting I had in London with developers from a leading global financial institution. They complained it takes three months for hardware supporting a new project to be procured, installed, racked, and stacked. Clearly unacceptable in today’s hyper-competitive market governed by agile development, continuous integration, and elastic scaling.

This need for application agility was the top cited reason for cloud adoption across organizations of all sizes — from those with fewer than 50 employees to enterprises with more than 5,000. It was also the top reason for cloud adoption cited across all job titles — from the CIO through to architects, developers, and DBAs.

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The Cloud Brief shows another interesting statistic. The majority of respondents use more than one cloud provider. This was primarily driven by the need to take advantage of specific features offered by one provider over another, and this clearly demonstrates the need to remain flexible in your cloud choices.

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