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Why it’s time to ‘liberate’ IT from vendor lock-in [Commentary]

Everyone likes pizza, right? Especially because we have so many options when we buy a pie ― from thin crust New York style to Chicago deep dish to fancy flatbread versions. What’s more, there’s no limitation to the toppings we can select, from traditional sausages and pepperoni and peppers to even broccoli and zucchini and pineapple and barbequed bison. And if you don’t want traditional mozzarella cheese, that’s fine: Try feta, goat, parmesan, gouda, etc.

Given all of this, we wouldn’t order a pizza from a place that would tell us, “If you do business with us, you have to get the same pizza every time, or pay additional charges for ‘new pizza product.’ If you want to do that, you’ll need to allow us at least one month to develop the new pizza product, although it could take two or three months, or longer.” I mean, this would be absurd. Obviously, we’d walk away and look for another pizza joint. As consumers, this “freedom of choice” also applies to the way we shop for furniture, televisions, computers, cars, cookware, shoes, digital entertainment, etc.

So why doesn’t it apply to the way many organizations invest in technology?

In direct contrast to the liberation of our personal consumption, enterprise IT decision-makers willingly subject themselves to vendor lock-in, agreeing to terms and conditions which limit their tech acquisition and deployments to the vendor’s product versions and pricing. If you want something different, you should expect to “pay up” considerably for it, and then wait for months for your vendor to deliver.

In the modern age of rapid technology and business transformation, such a model proves entirely antiquated. Fortunately, thanks to cloud-driven market and technology developments, you can “opt out” of vendor lock-in. Here’s why you should, and how to go about doing so:

You can buy from an endless assortment of “as a service” solutions ― and “mix and match” as you like. As the Burger King slogan once proclaimed, “Have it your way …” These solutions will work in any cloud format ― public, private or hybrid. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) all play key roles here. If we stick to the pizza analogy, IaaS would be the crust. It’s the cloud-enabled service that brings the foundation upon which you layer the PaaS (that would be the sauce and cheese) and the SaaS/apps (these are the toppings) of your choice.

Even better, you can acquire any one of these without committing to the other. You can keep the infrastructure in-house while using external cloud vendors for the platforms and the apps. When your business demands change and/or grow, you can readily expand current tech capabilities from a cloud provider, or switch to alternative providers immediately. Because solutions now come with established connections for your system application program interfaces (APIs), you’re good to go. In other words, you’re not compelled to abide by onerous, single-vendor agreements that “trap” everything, and force you to pay excessive charges and wait eternally for new versions.

You “free” your data. With lock-in, the vendors “control” the data. But through today’s cloud offerings, youYour take control.solutions access data throughout the cloud service provider (CSP) environment whenever it is needed, regardless of where it exists. This is why command over data sovereignty is clearly tilting to the enterprise and away from vendors. It’s the enterprise decision-makers who now determine where data goes. Because the data is highly transportable, enterprise users access it from one cloud location to another, to best support their business requirements.

You can take advantage of platform independent “no code” solutions. With no-code solutions, you pay for a PaaS product upon which you build apps that are directly configured for your users’ task functions and demands. But you don’t need a binder full of tech certifications to create the apps. No-code is all about simple, “drop and drag” development. The app already has its “canvas” in place, so your IT people only need to conduct “light scripting” instead of hardcore, laborious development. As a result, your users get their preferred apps in weeks instead of months. The upshot: You’ll empower a more capable, productive workforce while saving on costs and avoiding vendor lock-in. You’ll make decisions quickly as business and technology dynamics swiftly evolve.

In our personal lives, we take choice for granted. And, within the enterprise, users have grown increasingly tech-savvy, selecting their own workplace devices and apps, i.e. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). In the process, they work smarter, faster and better ― while boosting their organization’s revenues and saving on costs.

Thus, just as employees no longer need to put up with “whatever the IT department tells them to use” ― and then wait forever for IT to supply them with new devices and apps as shifting business conditions and objectives warrant ― decision-makers do not have to tolerate vendor lock-in. Through highly adaptable cloud solutions, they can order solutions as they like. Subsequently, they unleash tech functionality that keeps up with the pace of change, and positions their organization for lasting success.

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