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Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in

Nobody wants to be caught in proprietary traps in the cloud. These tools can help you avoid being hemmed in by one vendor.
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In enterprise computing, vendor lock-in is too often a fait accompli. Vendor lock-in happens when, for example, a particular company -- such as IBM, Microsoft or Cisco Systems -- becomes the dominant vendor behind a particular technology and develops products that capture the advance with proprietary elements. That prevents its customers from leaving and ensures that only proprietary vendors can continue to capitalize on the technology.

With IBM it was the mainframe. Microsoft for many years dominated end-user computing with its Windows operating system, and Cisco has become the dominant enterprise networking vendor in the Ethernet era.

With the advent of cloud computing, however, customers can avoid lock-in by taking back some of that decision-making power. The cloud is a highly standardized environment, with new standards being added all the time -- such as the DMTF's Open Virtualization Format 2.0 (OVF) -- allowing translation between the proprietary virtual machine formats.

One way to get locked into the cloud is to, say, use only tools that recognize VMware virtual machines or Amazon Web Services VMs based on Amazon Machine Images. These virtual file formats are proprietary. They can be converted and moved around, but you need the right tools to do so. Faced with the prospect that customers might do it themselves, Amazon Web Services has moved beyond recognizing only its own virtual machine format to recognize VMware's as well. VMware and Microsoft recognize and produce some tools that work with each other's file formats. The old lock-in bonds are already being eroded by the nature of cloud computing, and this process will continue.

While there are still many proprietary traps in the cloud -- for example, using only Microsoft .net languages and running workloads only on the Windows Azure cloud -- you don't have to be hemmed in. Tools that recognize .net languages but deploy to public clouds are available. Don't let the convenience of vendor familiarity lead you to lock-in. Cloud computing isn't owned by anyone -- on the contrary, it can and will be the foundation on which many vendors will compete.

Furthermore, enterprise cloud users are eager to tap into a variety of services. They're building private clouds on premises to hold their most critical data, but they also want to interoperate with public clouds for customer-facing activities. That combination is called hybrid cloud computing, and there are multiple tools available.

In general, the best tools go beyond the operating infrastructure to view how well separate servers are running. They provide a view of the application, which uses pooled, or virtualized, resources such as storage and networking. This application-centric point of view addresses such questions as: How well is the application running? Do you need to perform analytics to see if something is going wrong? Do you need to scale it out further? How are the end users seeing the application?

Keeping choice in the hands of the IT manager is an important part of cloud computing. Here are 10 tools that can help you avoid lock-in and keep your enterprise moving forward.

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DerekSlayton
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DerekSlayton,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/25/2013 | 2:36:50 PM
re: 10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
Full disclosure, I work for VMTurbo but this comment makes absolutely no sense - and is inaccurate with how it represents our technology. The article is meant to cover technologies that help customers avoid getting locked in to a vertical stack. Customers using VMTurbo for intelligent placement - or improved control of the running environment, or capacity analysis and planning - have specifically decided to do so because of the value it provides to them. So to say "they are stuck with it" is just ludicrous. Further, our technology does just what Charlie intends to highlight (I think) with the article - that is, place those workloads and continuously optimize resource allocations across a heterogeneous hypervisor environment. Finally, our technology does provide API access to enable easy integration with other runbook or process management tools.
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/22/2013 | 1:15:25 AM
re: 10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
jsmitty6436: I can almost agree that Embotics should be on the list. They've done good work in virtual machine management and I considered them. But they've announced that they plan to have Hyper-V support in "early 2013," not the support itself. So you tell me, should they be on the list? Charlie Babcock, InformationWeek
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/22/2013 | 12:02:10 AM
re: 10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
Anon125 etc., If you're operating in the real world and buying software from software vendors, you're experiencing some degree of lock-in. The goal here isn't to solve all lock-in issues for all time but to avoid the most obvious traps of cloud lock-in. The named parties provide a measure of flexibility and cross-cloud capability that lets a cloud user avoid getting caught up in one line of products. Indeed, I find the companies with strong systems management experience to be a source of this capability, partly because they understood cross-hardware and cross-operating system issues before cloud computing came along. Some of them, IBM, HP, CA and BMC included, seem to have learned some hard lessons about the how they might be left behind in this new era. They now believe they will be if they don't achieve more of this cross-cloud flexibility, and they are gainfully employing that knowledge. And since the Anon125etc. is from HP, I'm not surprised there's a sense of rivalry with the others to his comments. Charlie Babcock
Mark Montgomery
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Mark Montgomery,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2013 | 11:46:12 PM
re: 10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
Sigh..... philosophy and tactics are always embedded in architecture and code. Incentives are much better aligned in newcos and private companies than large public incumbents and that has been the case since the industry was born, which is why creative destruction is a continuous process. Too bad so many large customers and CIOs missed the entire education on market farming and their role with it. Kyield doesn't lock-in. I am the founder and majority owner and I am willing, able and have inked it in pilot AGs. Trust me please -- you have to work much harder than this to find the jewels before the herd. Those with the most funding and make the most noise tend to be the least aligned with customers, and they advertise in trades the most, payoff entire industry ecosystems in numerous ways, including some cases hire FT 'independent consultants' and their blogs. What a mess.
ANON1252433557584
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ANON1252433557584,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2013 | 10:36:13 AM
re: 10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
Sorry Charles, but each and every one of the 10 you bring out there are vendor or technology lock-ins. I'm not going to talk about CA and BMC which are clearly lock-ins, but once you rely on VMTurbo to take an example, you are dependent of them for a lot of your server placement. You'r e not ready to move to another technology on a heartbeat. Rather than avoiding vendor lock-in, it's probably wiser to ensure you maximize the possibilities of being able to add the technologies of your choice. As a matter of fact, in a blog post I released yesterday, I'm hinting to 5 key rules. You can find them http://h30507.www3.hp.com/t5/C.... Give me your feedback.
Nati Shalom
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Nati Shalom,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2013 | 6:18:35 AM
re: 10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
I think that Cloud Portability may seem to be a big topic and to most people also means that to get portability we need to compromise on a least common denominator.
The cost of that compromise may often be higher than the cost of "locking".

It is therefore important to note that there are various approaches to avoid locking that doesn't necessarily means that we need to agree on a least common denominator as i pointed out in this post: http://natishalom.typepad.com/...

Nati Shalom
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Nati Shalom,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 11:18:15 PM
re: 10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
Good overview: You should also consider cloudifysource.org an opensource framework for managing application across large pool of private and public clouds including Amazon, Rackspace, HPCS, Azure, CloudStack, OpenStack, Eucalyptus. Cloudify also support non virtualised legacy data centres.
jsmitty6436
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jsmitty6436,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 7:42:42 PM
re: 10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
Aside from the inconvenient format, the info is biased and incorrect. Having BMC and CA listed as helping avoid vendor lock-in is insane. Both CA and BMC are vendors who are classic for locking customers in. In addition, Rightscale is provided as SAAS so that is lock-in and a security issue. I suspect that Charles just got tired and instead of researching next Gen Cloud platforms that support real server automation tools and network virtualization platforms; he just regurgitated and repurposed some old research.

I would suggest that lacking inclusion of Embotics and CloudBolt is a real oversight.
Prof Ralph
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Prof Ralph,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 6:52:39 PM
re: 10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
I agree 100% - such good articles yet it is so inconvenient that we cannot print or save the entire article!
Leo Regulus
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Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2013 | 9:42:59 PM
re: 10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
Information Week only had one important New Year's Resolution this year. '"No Slide Show Articles with out a prominent 'View-as-one-page' link." How's that working out for you so far?
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