2017 internet trends for Cloud: lock-in and governance

6th June 2017
Rod Nicolson

Mary Meeker’s chunky presentation on 2017 Internet Trends for Cloud and much else, includes insights on the switch by companies all over the world to cloud-based infrastructures.  Global IT infrastructure spend on traditional data centres is down 13% between 2013 and 2016, and last year’s concerns about cloud’s data security and pricing have lessened.  In a sign of a maturing market, the top concerns in 2017 are shifting towards vendor lock-in and governance.

Kleiner Perkins Internet Trends 2017 Cloud Concerns

Lock-in

The risks of vendor lock-in can be mitigated, but in reality the cost and effort of moving can outweigh the benefits. Having chosen a provider based on their capabilities, it is possible that others may not have the same toolset.  As with everything, there will be trade offs.  In the words of Dave Rogers, CTO of UK’s Ministry of Justice, you need to balance what you value most against the switching cost.

If you really have to be able to jump ship at short notice, then use vendor-agnostic tools to maintain working pipelines into different vendors.  It’s worth noting, however, that this can have significant implications for cost and effort, and may rule out getting the most out of either vendor.

Governance

Moving to the public or private cloud means transferring effort from running your own infrastructure, policies and SLAs, to the due diligence and monitoring required to ensure that your vendors are.  This can reduce costs, transfer risks and improve performance, as vendors are usually able to provide much higher levels of service than most companies could manage in-house.  It does require skills, however, for monitoring, alerting, incident tracking and problem resolution, that an in-house team may not have.  So start small with a low-risk project, create policies to manage data and security in your new environments, and take into account that existing systems will need some re-engineering to run in the cloud.  

Lastly, before you sign, make sure someone reads and understands every letter, dot and comma of the Ts & Cs.  We’ve seen people put themselves in a bad place because they just hadn’t read the terms properly. 

Up, up and away

These concerns do not seem to be halting the rise and rise of the Cloud, and we’re not surprised.  The Cloud is both a source and an enabler of innovation and has revolutionised how we create value in a digital world.

Cloud-based products are typically simpler, more modular and services-driven, making them easier to setup and integrate, and faster to change. The Cloud supports ways of thinking that help teams to focus on designing and operating useful, robust software, and deliver it at pace.  The databases they use provide better performance at the edge of the network and are highly scalable, giving customers faster and more reliable access to data across the globe.  

All of this enables companies to create digital products that perform well for their customers wherever they are, that scale fast, and don’t cost the earth to run.  Compared to traditional data-centres, we’ve seen cloud infrastructures save clients up to 98% of their operational costs. As a result, budgets that used to go into just keeping the lights on can be repurposed to innovate and create better products.  

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