Avoid Being Locked into Your Cloud Services

By: Morpheus Data

Before you sign on the dotted line for a cloud service supporting your application development or other core IT operation, make sure you have an easy, seamless exit strategy in place. Just because an infrastructure service is based on open-source software doesn’t mean you won’t be locked in by the service’s proprietary APIs and other specialty features.

In the quest for ever-faster app design, deployment, and updating, developers increasingly turn to cloud infrastructure services. These services promise to let developers focus on their products rather than on the underlying servers and other exigencies required to support the development process.

However, when you choose cloud services to streamline development, you run the risk of being locked in, at either the code level or the architecture level. Florian Motlik, CTO of continuous-integration service Codeship, writes in a February 21, 2015, article on Gigaom that infrastructure services mask the complexities underlying cloud-based development.

Depending on the type of cloud infrastructure service you choose, the vendor may manage more or less of your data operations. Source: Crucial

Even when the services you use adhere strictly to open systems, there is always a cost associated with switching providers: transfer the data, change the DNS, and thoroughly test the new setup. Of particular concern are services such as Google App Engine that lock you in at the code level. However, Amazon Web Services Lambda, Heroku, and other infrastructure services that let you write Node.js functions and invoke them either via an API or on specific events in S3, Kinesis, or DynamoDB entail a degree of architecture lock-in as well.

To minimize lock-in, Motlik recommends using a micro-services architecture based on technology supported by many different providers, such as Rails or Node.

Cloud Computing Journal‘s Gregor Petri identifies four types of cloud lock-in: the horizontal type locks you into a specific product and prevents you from switching to a competing service; vertical limits your choices in other levels of the stack, such as database or OS; diagonal locks you into a single vendor’s family of products, perhaps in exchange for reduced management and training costs, or to realize a substantial discount; and generational prevents you from adopting new technologies as they become available.

Gregor Petri identifies four types of cloud lock-in: horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and generational. Source: Cloud Computing Journal

Will virtualization bring about the demise of cloud lock-in?

Many cloud services are addressing the lock-in trap by making it easier for potential customers to migrate their data and development tools/processes from other platforms to the services’ own environments. Infinitely Virtual founder and CEO Adam Stern claims that virtualization has “all but eliminated” lock-in related to operating systems and open source software. Stern is quoted by Linux Insider‘s Jack M. Germain in an article from November 2013.

Alsbridge’s Rick Sizemore points out that even with the availability of tools for migrating data between VMWare, OpenStack, and Amazon Web Services, customers may be locked in by contract terms that limit when they can remove their data. Sizemore also cautions that services may combine open source tools in a proprietary way that locks in your data.

In a February 9, 2015, article in Network World, HotLink VP Jerry McLeod points out that you can minimize the chances of becoming locked into a particular service by ensuring that you can move hybrid workloads seamlessly between disparate platforms. McLeod warns that vendors may attempt to lock in their customers by requiring that they sign long-term contracts.

Seamless workload migration and customer-focused contract terms are only two of the features that make the new Morpheus Virtual Appliance a “lock-in free” zone. With the Morpheus database-as-a-service (DBaaS) you can provision, deploy, and monitor your MongoDB, Redis, MySQL, and ElasticSearch databases from a single point-and-click console. Morpheus lets you work with SQL, NoSQL, and in-memory databases across hybrid clouds in just minutes. Each database instance you create includes a free full replica set for built-in fault tolerance and fail over.

In addition, the service allows you to migrate existing databases from a private cloud to the public cloud, or from public to private. A new instance of the same database type is created in the other cloud, and real-time replication keeps the two databases in sync. Visit the Morpheus site to create a free account.