Already one of the defining trends of this decade, big data is revolutionising industries from manufacturing to meteorology through the power of predictive analytics. Big data has the potential to change the way we see the world.

But ever-growing volumes of data demand fully flexible storage systems to accommodate this growth, all of which adds cost and complexity to any IT architecture. To illustrate, nearly three quarters of respondents to Tech Week Europe’s July 2015 data storage report stated that high cost is a major problem when looking for storage solutions. 

[easy-tweet tweet=”The #Cloud is a lot like mobile phones – contract lock-in is scary and needs to change” user=”WANdisco” usehashtags=”no”]

The cloud offers an attractive alternative. It has the potential to reduce costs and deliver a greater degree of flexibility, however a few challenges remain as we start to question how we move the data either to the cloud or, at some point in the future, between cloud providers.

It is unsurprising that companies looking to leverage cloud economics as part of their IT architecture may have concerns about changing their cloud provider further down the line. The difficulties presented by movement between providers within the cloud can create a ‘lock-in’ situation, driven by cost, security and practicality.

During lock-in, businesses are compelled to stay with their original provider due to the challenges faced by movement within the cloud. This inertia threatens to remove one of the main economic reasons for moving to the cloud: the ability to choose the most cost-effective and flexible IT Architecture.

Although at many levels providers want to deliver the best possible solution to meet the needs of the customer, they have little incentive to make it easy to switch, which could potentially lose them business. A good example is the mobile phone industry where it is easy to change providers today, but in the past it was a lot more difficult.

Another example is the banking and energy industries where various initiatives have looked to make it easier for customers to switch providers. As such prices have come down and companies have realised they have to be more competitive to attract and retain their customers. We are yet to witness this same level of flexibility in IT service cloud providers. 

Transferring between cloud vendors is not just expensive, but can also take a great deal of time

Transferring between cloud vendors is not just expensive, but can also take a great deal of time, putting unnecessary pressure on IT teams. Each cloud provider has a different infrastructure, causing complexities when moving between vendors.

A leading IT media outlet recently changed cloud providers, and found that their new provider stored data in a different format to their existing provider. In order to switch they had to spend a great deal of time migrating and checking the data before it could be transferred, costing considerable time. 

[easy-tweet tweet=”The future of the #cloud depends on its ability to provide a flexible service for all” user=”WANdisco @comparethecloud”]

Companies switching cloud provider also worry about security. In order to transfer data between providers it is necessary to move the data temporarily out from behind the firewall. This exposure leaves the data vulnerable, sometimes for several hours whilst the transfer takes place. It is understandable why companies may be unwilling to change cloud provider, despite the potential long-term cost and service benefits.

Solutions to these challenges are out there. WANdisco helps firms to migrate to the cloud without disruption and allows customers to move between different providers in a public or hybrid cloud environment, thus enabling them to extend their data centre. We believe that companies should be allowed to choose and change their cloud vendors at will, avoiding vendor lock-in.

It is vital at this early stage in the development of the cloud that movement between providers is achieved as seamlessly as possible, encouraging customers to continually seek value for money. The future of the cloud depends on its ability to provide a flexible service for all.

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Mark Lewis, Vice President of Product Marketing, WANdisco Mark Lewis is Vice President of Product Marketing at WANdisco. Throughout Mark’s 25+ year career he has held senior positions across engineering, sales and marketing with organisations such as BT, Sun Microsystems, EMC, Riverbed and Cloudera. He has a passion for evangelising new services, products and technologies in the drive to help organisations develop IT strategies that address real business issues.