Don’t get locked out of multi-cloud options

Jun 16, 2022
Multi Cloud

Vendor lock-in issues need to be understood and managed.

Credit: iStock/filo

Long-standing fears about being locked into a particular vendor’s IT solution can freeze decision-making when IT leaders seek to invest in new capabilities. Multi-cloud provides new opportunities to quickly gain those capabilities without being exceedingly beholden to any one vendor, but lock-in avoidance is not necessarily the right motivation on which to base a multi-cloud strategy.

Vendor lock-in has been around since the dawn of commercial computing. An early justification for cloud was that it would do away with lock-in as customers could simply take their cloud assets and move to another cloud vendor.

Well, nothing in life is ever that simple and the pendulum has swung to the point that fears of cloud vendor lock-in may stall some decision makers from pursuing cloud strategies as aggressively as they’d like.

InfoWorld columnist David Linthicum advises that lock-in is more real than cloud vendors let on but urges decision-makers to not “use lock-in as a reason not to move to the public cloud. We’ve dealt with lock-in issues in the past, and on multiple platforms. This is no different. Lock-in is just another trade-off of cloud computing. As such, it needs to be understood and managed.”

Richard Munro, VMware Director, Cloud and Apps Strategy, warns against viewing lock-in avoidance as a primary driver of multi-cloud strategy. That’s a “current, popular misconception” that can polarize discussions that would better be focused on best practices for multi-cloud.

“The multi-cloud goal is to accelerate your ability to use any technology that meets your business requirements,” Munro writes. He makes the case that “a total lock-in avoidance approach implies a deliberate choice to deny yourself access to many available technologies, platforms, and services – of locking yourself out. This is a multi-cloud anti-pattern.”

Each cloud vendor has its own proprietary tools and processes that could lock-in customers or cause them to avoid a particular service. But if you can manage that lock-in risk to your advantage, there’s no reason to avoid adding a particular cloud to your multi-cloud environment.

Munro offers three options to mitigate lock-in risk:

  • Use of open standards/open source to support interoperability
  • Leveraging ecosystems such as that around Kubernetes to provide reduced-cost portability
  • Negotiating critical KPIs and exit clauses into service contracts, or seeking credits that allow you to change your license distribution as your needs change

“Multi-cloud implementation can be risky and complex, but for most business operators, the advantages far outweigh the problems,” Paramita (Guha) Ghosh writes in an article for Dataversity. “When a multi-cloud environment has been properly set up with the help of skilled professionals, enterprises have favorable options for running workloads while extracting the geographic or functional benefits of each cloud.”

Most organizations are already multi-cloud, although some may not realize it due to the “shadow IT” phenomenon. VMware says its analysis indicates 75% of its customers are relying on two or more public clouds, and 40% are using three or more. The issue for IT leaders should be how to assert centralized management and visibility into the whole of their cloud infrastructures.

VMware Cloud Universal offers choice and agility, reducing the risks of multi-cloud adoption. It provides a flexible purchasing and consumption program spanning multi-cloud infrastructure, cloud management, application modernization, and customer success capabilities. Leveraging a unified set of enterprise-class VMware compute, storage, networking, management, and other capabilities, it also provides centralized access across active VMware Cloud Universal entitlements, such as VMware Cloud on AWS and Google Cloud VMware Engine.

To find out if VMware Cloud Universal can ease your path to an effective multi-cloud future, go to