John Sloan, lead research analyst for Info-Tech Research Group (, says:

Why don’t IT and data center managers like vendor lock-in?

I don’t know if it is as much hating vendor lock-in as it is preferring an open playing field and choice. Open competition increases choices and drives down price. In evaluating all cloud opportunities we use what we call the three rules of cloud investment (previously called the three rules of utility infrastructure). These are 1) Applications are Business Alignment – it is in applications that enable business processes regardless of where it is hosted or how it is delivered, the application needs to evaluated for its business value first 2) Infrastructure is Capacity – the business value of infrastructure is measured in basic commodity metrics of cost per unit of capacity plus mitigation of risk 3) Management is a Differentiator – while the utility might be undifferentiated commodity the tools that manage the infrastructure for efficiency and effective provisioning can be an important value add.

When it comes to cloud Infrastructure as a Service, of which storage is a subset, the important rule here is number 2. All that should matter is the cost per unit of available capacity (cost per Gigabyte stored) plus what sort of service levels are guaranteed for what I pay per Gigabyte (security, availability, performance). I should be free to move my data to another cloud if the costs are lower and/or the service better. Right now that level of choice and mobility between options does not exist.

Take site to site replication, for example. If you have a storage array at your primary location replicating to storage at another location, it makes sense to ask (and I have seen this question asked often) ‘Would it be cheaper to replicate to a cloud-based target rather than to an array I have to buy and maintain at a secondary location?’ Sure, that makes sense. But how is the replication happening? If it is happening between two proprietary boxes from the same vendor you have to have that vendor’s gear at the second site (vendor lock-in). To use a cloud source you may need to have the storage vendor’s cloud. There is no shopping for the best cost and service.

I don’t think data center managers necessarily “hate” vendor lock-in. In the absence of an open market they will select the solution that best meets their needs. The possibility of vendor lock-in can be seen as an necessary price to pay to get what you want in the near term.