103. Replay of Ep 14. Stop Worrying About Cloud Lock-in


Cloud lock-in is always fun to talk about. Conversations abound on Twitter, at conferences, and by the water cooler. This week we replay an early episode from June 13, 2018 to see if our opinions on cloud lock-in have changed in the past two years. Spoiler alert: they haven’t.

Original Notes

At the recent Gluecon event, a popular topic centered around how to prevent Cloud Lock-in. Chris Hickman and Jon Christensen of Kelsus and Rich Staats from Secret Stache discuss why you your time is better spent focusing on one cloud provider. If/when Cloud Lock-in becomes an issue, you will have the resources to deal with it.

Some of the highlights of the show include:
  • AWS Fargate is ‘serverless ECS’. You don’t need to manage your own cluster nodes. This sounds great, but we’ve found the overhead of managing your own cluster to be minimal. Fargate is more expensive than ECS, and you have greater control if you manage your own cluster.
  • Cloud lock-in was a huge concern among people at Gluecon 2018. People from large companies talked about ‘being burned’ in the past with vendor lock-in. The likely risks are (1) price gouging and (2) vendors going out of business.
  • Cloud allows people to deploy faster and more cheaply than running their own hardware, as long as you don’t have huge scale. Few businesses get large enough to need their own data center on-prem to save money.
  • Small and startup companies often start off in the Cloud. Big companies often have their own data centers and they are now migrating to the Cloud.
  • AWS does allow you to run their software in your own data center, but this ties you to AWS.
  • There is huge complication and risk to architecting a system to run in multiple cloud environments, and it almost certainly wouldn’t run optimally in all clouds.
  • We think the risk of AWS hiking prices drastically, or going out of business, is essentially zero.
  • If you were building a microservice-based multi-cloud system, some of the difficulties include: Which cloud hosts the database? How do I spread my services across 2 clouds? What about latency between cloud providers networks? How do I maintain security? How do I staff people who are experts at operating in both clouds?
  • It’s clear that lock-in is a real fear for many companies, regardless of our opinion that it shouldn’t be such a concern.
  • Jon thinks the fear of lock-in may drive cloud providers toward standardization; Chris thinks AWS doesn’t have a compelling reason to standardize since they’re the industry leader.
  • Our advice: as a small or medium size company, don’t worry about cloud lock in. If you get big enough that it’s really a concern, we recommend building abstractions for the provider-specific parts of your system, and having a backup of your system ready to run in a 2nd cloud provider, but don’t try to run them concurrently.

Links and Resources

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