Gartner Research

A Guidance Framework for Managing Vendor Lock-In Risks in Cloud IaaS


I&O technical professionals must balance the agility, productivity, operational, and management advantages of strategic cloud IaaS adoption with the risks of vendor lock-in. We provide guidance for building lock-in risk assessments and creating a cloud IaaS portability strategy.

Published: 09 December 2019

ID: G00448107

Analyst(s): Lydia Leong

Table Of Contents

Problem Statement

The Gartner Approach

The Guidance Framework

  • Prework
    • Lock-In Is the Result of Architectural Choices
    • Effective Cloud Portability Practices
    • Architect for Contextual Independence
    • Be Wary of Abstraction Layers
    • Have Cloud Exit Contingency Plans
  • Step 1: Assess Each Application’s Need for Portability
  • Step 2: Identify Each Application’s Barriers to Portability
    • Barriers to Portability by Category
    • Why Containers Are Not a Portability Panacea: An Analysis by Lock-In Category
    • Lock-In Varies per Provider
  • Step 3: Identify systemic risks created by vendor dependence
    • Business Continuity Risks
    • Governance Challenges
    • Future Risks
  • Step 4: Create a Cloud Portability Strategy
    • Rate the Priority of the Business Motivations That Justify Lock-In Acceptance
    • Determine the Relative Importance of Standardization
    • Choose a Strategic Stance on Lock-In
  • Step 5: Educate Sourcing, Vendor Management, and IT Finance
    • Market Reality: Where Else Are You Going to Go?
    • Provider Strategy: Keep Customers With Honey, Not the Tar Pit
    • Provider Failures Cannot Be Effectively Managed Through Contract T&Cs

Risks and Pitfalls

  • Pitfall: Thinking Lock-In Is a Vendor Management Problem
  • Pitfall: Allowing a Faction to Dominate Lock-In Decisions
  • Pitfall: Taking a “Lowest Common Denominator” Approach
  • Pitfall: Falling Victim to Hype

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