Digital transformation is more than just a buzzword; it is a critical process for businesses that want to keep pace with today’s mobile-first consumers. It is also non-negotiable, with the Digital Transformation 2018 report stating that 40% of organisations will no longer exist in 10 years if they fail to bring in new technologies to power digital transformation. One of the key enablers of digital transformation is cloud computing, the new normal for organisations large and small. The cloud lets organisations experiment and innovate cost-effectively, helping them move fast to gain competitive advantage and give customers the flexibility and choice they demand.

While demand for cloud computing is growing, even in government organisations and regulated industries, so too are the requirements that organisations place on their cloud partners. They are no longer looking for a technology partner for life; instead, they want the solutions and scalability that will help them adapt to the fast-changing needs of their customers.

A relationship of trust 

Cloud computing today delivers much more than virtual machines or virtual storage. It allows customers to move fast, operate more securely and save substantial costs while benefiting from scale and performance. Many cloud providers also deliver services that help organisations deliver on digital transformation projects, from analytics and artificial intelligence to security, virtual reality and application development.

However, the crux of an organisations relationship with its cloud provider is trust; when your business infrastructure lives in the cloud you need that cloud to be available and resilient.  This is why customers expect always-on uptime, world-class security and competitive pricing. This trust can be easily broken by issues including service disruptions, price hikes and security lapses. Should this occur, organisations want the option of walking away. Sadly, some cloud providers make this difficult with efforts to ‘lock-in’ customers.

Moving away from vendor lock-in

Before the advent of cloud computing, traditional IT systems were delivered via long term contracts and upfront payments. Cloud changed this, enabling organisations to pay for only what they need on a subscription basis. This approach not only provides a financial benefit, it also lets organisations walk away at any time, moving to another provider that can restore their trust or better help them evolve in line with changes in their marketplace.

At AWS, customers have responded well to the cloud model and are looking to get away from the “old way” of doing things and avoiding the “lock-in” associated with high hardware costs, additional software licensing and support needed for in-house data centres. In fact, the frustration with vendor lock-in has been exacerbated as many contracts force customers to postpone their move to the cloud.

“We are looking to adopt a cloud-based model as far as possible but we have a lot of legacy applications and a lot of long-term contracts which we can’t really seek to re-procure with something already in place, ” said Marion Sinclair, Head of Strategy and Enterprise Architecture at Kensington and Chelsea Council. 

New platform, same frustrations?

On transitioning to a cloud environment, organisations expect to be free of vendor lock-in. Unfortunately, some cloud providers are pushing technologies that effectively keep their customers locked into their platform. One example of this is the cloud abstraction layer where vendors add a layer between their infrastructure and the app. This layer hides the implementation details of how app functionally operates, making it difficult to move to a new cloud platform.

Customer’s moving to the cloud must be careful to avoid more lock-ins; they can make organisations less nimble and adaptable to changing business conditions, and can also greatly impact growth, innovation, business costs and flexibility.

Cloud computing has quickly changed the way that IT is built, developed and deployed. Moreover, it has been critical in supporting organisations with a focus on fast-paced digital transformation. However, to truly keep pace with their market and customers, organisations must avoid lock-in, leaving them free to select the best IT building blocks for their transformation efforts.

AWS believes that customers should have a choice to change cloud service providers (CSP) and avoid customer lock-in. We strive to maintain customer loyalty by innovating, and improving and creating new services. Customers pay only for the services they use and can switch CSPs at any time. AWS provides access to the highest levels of security, but without a large upfront expense, and at a lower cost than in an on-premises environment. AWS offers both a secure cloud computing environment and innovative security services that satisfy the security and compliance needs of the most risk-sensitive organisations.