Cloud computing gets more and more attention because it is cost effective, can easily adapt to demand, can be quickly deployed, delivers a high availability for applications etc. In the next couple of years more and more organizations will consider and actually move their IT from running on owned hardware to a Infrastructure as a Service model.
One of the reasons why organizations doubt whether to move to cloud computing or not is the risk of vendor lock-in. A vendor lock-in is when the customer is dependent on services or products of the vendor and is unable to change vendor because of the high costs associated by switching vendor. A lot of vendors have a business model which is based on lure. A company wants to achieve a marketshare for a new product or service. To attract customers they offer lower prices than theor competitors. As soon as enough customers are acquired prices are raised. Especially when the competitors have disappeared. It happens everywhere and the strongest vendor survives.
A vendor raising prices or reducing the level of service is no problem as long as the customer can easily switch to another vendor. If my supermarket raises the price for milk by 200%, I switch to the supermarket next door. Simple as that.
Switching vendor when an organization is using public cloud computing services can be a lot more difficult. Vendors do change their pricing, conditions, service levels etc. Vendors which do not offer an opportunity for their customers to leave is called the Hotel California effect: you can check in but you can never leave, part of the lyrics of a song called ‘Hotel California’ by The Eagles. There are some examples of cloud services which offers great migration tooling to get data in the cloud, but not out of the cloud!
Recently Mozy, a online provider of storage (storage as a service) all of a sudden announced they will increase their price dramatically. They used to offer an unlimited storage plan. At February 1 2o11 Mozy announced the unlimited storage will disappear. The costs of an unlimited storage plan wil now give a limit of 50 GB of online storage. For each 20 GB extra storage a $2, – fee per month will be billed! The result was a lot of unhappy customers . In this case there are a lot of other vendors offering online backup services. Crashplan seems to be a popular alternative for Mozy.
To prevent being stuck in Hotel California, make sure you can switch vendor without having to invest in time and money. VMware offers the vCloud API which enables customers to move virtual machine workloads to and from private clouds.