Why you should escape from cloud vendor lock-in

As hyperscale cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and Google have come to increasingly dominate the market, many businesses are finding themselves at risk of being locked into a single vendor ecosystem. 

Taking AWS as an example, at last count they offer around 220 forms of cloud products, including compute, storage, databases, analytics, networking, developer tools, management tools, and IoT tools. Taking in an ecosystem of this size, it can be very easy for organisations to be convinced into the simplicity, and often cost-savings, of the ‘one-stop shop’ hyperscaler offering. However, the ease of a single vendor ecosystem can come with a number of hidden risks and expenses.

The operational risks of lock-in 

Lock-in can complicate cloud-to cloud migration in a number of ways. A vendor’s quality of service can decline, or a vendor may shift their product offering in a way that disadvantages or does not meet the needs of the organisation that is locked into this provider. Similarly, a vendor may increase prices, knowing their client is locked into their services. However, one of the most pressing challenges of lock-in with hyperscalers are security concerns.

Storing all of your data in one place is putting all your eggs in one basket when it comes to security and uptime – you’re betting that a malware attack will be unable to bypass the security of your provider, and that provider can provide 24/7 uptime for you. But even the best security systems can be breached, the best data centres can be knocked offline, and cyberattacks are not slowing down.

Ultimately, diversification through redundancy is key to mitigating these risks. At the very least, backups should be maintained for critical data and workflows with different storage providers, so as to provide continuity in the case of a ransomware attack, accidental file deletion, or server outage.

The hidden financial costs of lock-in

One reason organisations can end up locked into big hyperscaler providers for their cloud storage is the sheer financial cost of migration. Data egress is the process of data departing from a network to an external location, and the fees surrounding this can be extremely steep.

Moving around large amounts of data in an enterprise environment can accrue hundreds of thousands of pounds in egress fees, discouraging cloud migration and keeping organisations locked in with providers that they are not entirely happy with.

An obvious solution to this is to minimise the movement of data. Organisations can hold on to workloads locally where possible, or split their loads between a public and private cloud system, keeping sovereignty over the most highly pulled data. But this may not always be a solution, especially when teams are distributed globally or if they have to regularly share large volumes of data with clients or partners.

In cases like these, the only solution on the table is to escape from lock-in and leverage providers that offer fewer fees, or even no fees at all.  This makes particular sense for organisations with large existing egress fees, or organisations that are rapidly expanding as they can transfer their data before the load expands further.

Securing intermediate storage

Vendor lock-in can also prove a problem for organisations that need to store data before sending it to other clouds. Egress fees and API call fees can make cross-cloud data transfers extortionate if a hyperscaler is used for intermediate storage. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have petabytes of room for on-site data storage, and building out this capacity is an expensive and expansive process.

Here, smaller providers can fill the gap through providing a cost-effective place to store data that’s “in-transit” from one private or public cloud to another. Through escaping vendor lock-in and using a non-hyperscaler as such a staging ground for data transfers, organisations can save considerable amounts they’d otherwise spend on egress fees. Though we are seeing hyperscale cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and Google further assert their dominance over the market for cloud compute and services, you should remember that this doesn’t mean they need to be a  ‘one-stop shop’ solution for data storage. For many organisations, the short-term pain of escaping a gilded cage is worth the long-term rewards of escaping vendor lock-in: a more affordable, resilient, and flexible storage regime.

About the Author

David Friend is co-founder and CEO at Wasabi Wasabi is the hot cloud storage company. Hot cloud storage is fast to write, low-cost, and reliable cloud storage. Wasabi delivers fast, low-cost, and reliable cloud storage. Amazon locks companies into their expensive storage and nobody likes vendor lock-in. Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage is 1/5 the price of Amazon S3 and faster than the competition with no fees for egress or API requests.

Featured image: ©KanawatTH