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Stuck in the Cloud


Stuck in the Cloud

Are you stuck?

Are the IT resources and services you are paying for competitive?    Have you moved to the cloud and found you are now stuck there? 

With undeniable benefits and an imperative of the connected world, cloud economy is a reality. However, the ongoing debate about the best cloud model for business appears to be adding more confusion than answers. As a result, we see increasingly more organisations, from SMEs to government departments experiencing the pinch of being stuck in the cloud or rather in a frustrating vendor lock in.

Have you made a strategic decision to move to the cloud and found you are now stuck with little room to move and grow? Are the cloud IT resources and services you are paying for becoming unreasonable? Do they give you the freedom, agility and returns you were promised?  

Sounds familiar? Then read on.

Vendor Lock In

The Problem

Recently, we’ve had a growing procession of companies coming to us for assistance with moving from their current supplier of cloud services.  It wasn’t an overnight decision.  They were sitting on the fence for months trying to adjust to the discomfort.   They all tell us the same two common problems they have or believe they have:

  1. We are not getting the service we need.
  2. We believe we are paying over inflated prices for the resources we are using.

Vendor Lock In

If you feel like you’re trapped, you are most likely experiencing  vendor lock-in.  In economics, vendor lock-in, also known as proprietary lock-in or customer lock-in, makes a customer dependent on a vendor for products and services and unable to use another vendor without substantial switching costs.

Anyone who uses  cloud services typically enters into an agreement with one vendor.  This means that, if you wanted to take advantage of price opportunities in the market and try different vendors, you are not allowed to do it on your existing platform. And, if you wanted to change a vendor, your data cannot be easily transferred from one provider to another. How it affects you depends on the agreement and of course managing your supplier to get what you’ve agreed to pay for.

What You Need to Do First

Service is something that is difficult to measure.     What one person perceives to be bad service may be acceptable to someone else.    Reviewing and understanding the Service Level Agreement (SLA) provided to you is the starting point for receiving the service that you require.  

If you want to compare what you are paying against the going market rate, jump onto the Azure pricing calculator.     Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud also have pricing calculators that can be used.   Determining the going rate is very easy as rates are well advertised.    

And, importantly, contact another IT Services provider, check them out and get a second opinion.   IT Networks can of course assist, and you can contact us here.

Vendor locked

How Did We Get Here – in Bad Company

Not having signed up with one of the major players providing cloud services might be why you are in the position you are in.     This is what we regularly see when potential customers come to us for help.    They have all signed up with their current IT company for ‘cloud’ services and, despite major operational problems, they cannot move because all of the resources provided to them are owned by their IT company.

The most common and consistent complaint we hear is with regard to Office 365.    The customer is being invoiced by their IT provider for what they think is Office 365.    The provider is giving them mailboxes on an Exchange Multi Tenancy Server.    Apart from not getting what you believe you are paying for, Office 365 delivers considerably more than just a mailbox.

There is one major problem with using an Exchange Multi Tenancy Server as a customer.   Only the owner of the server can administer and support you, which is the IT company that sold it to you in the first place.

The Way Forward

If you move the cloud resources you currently have to one of the major players, namely Microsoft, AWS or Google, you can choose who provides you with ongoing support.    While you will still have to choose one of the partners or someone who is familiar with administering the specific vendors services, you will have choices.   You are not locked in to one single supplier, and if you are not happy with the supplier you initially choose, you can simply change to another.    Your data stays where it is and only your support provider changes.    There is no cost, or very little cost involved in changing support providers as your systems and data do not change.

Moving Cloud Providers

Barriers to Changing Cloud Providers

Vendors never explicitly prevent customers from moving away from the service/s that they provide.   They merely impose hard to scale barriers, or restrictions that discourage users from doing so:

  • technical,
  • financial, and sometimes
  • legal.

Technical restrictions are mostly complex dependencies because of legacy applications.   It becomes very difficult to move things because they will break once moved. 

Financial restriction is simply the cost of moving everything versus just leaving it as it is and putting up with it.

Legal restrictions are typically subscribing to a service for a period of time.    If you cancel before the subscription renews, you are obligated to pay out the difference, or a percentage of the difference to the end of the term.

Set yourself free

How to Set Yourself Free

Some organisations will simply keep paying and keep putting up with the bad service that they have become accustom to.    They consider it a known quantity and do not want to take a risk on moving.   However, unless you are intending on winding your business down and turning everything off, doing nothing is not a move forward.    You will have to do something about the situation you are in at some point in time.

If you want to move and set yourself free, then the good news is it is not all that difficult.   The three hurdles you have to jump were described earlier:  Technical, Financial and Legal restrictions.   

Legal restrictions cannot be enforced forever.    There is always a termination clause and a sunset clause.    Understanding what your obligations are is very straight forward.    Financial restrictions are not always a restriction.    In most cases what appears to be a restriction will work in your favour.     If you are paying $10,000 a year over and above the market rate for your cloud resources and it costs you $10,000 to move you don’t need a calculator to work out your return on investment.     Every year after the first year you make the move will have you $10,000 better off.

The most difficult hurdle to jump are the technical restrictions.     This is not something you can do yourself unless you are a trained professional.  A professional and experienced IT services provider, who does it all the time, will easily assess what you have now and determine where and how to move your digital assets safely and cost effectively.

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