Exit Planning for Cloud Services – or how do I avoid cloud lock in?

(Stephen Parker, Head of Cloud Strategy)

Been a long, tiring but very enjoyable month.  I have been on the road as part of Microsoft road shows and visiting clients in each of the Australian state capitals.  There is a growing shift from people saying “Why should I be interested in the Cloud?” to “How can I get involved?”.

However one area that I discussed with a number of organisations (whether they be buyers or suppliers) was the readiness of Cloud service providers to assist customers who wished to leave the service.  This was not about bad leavers, but those who had naturally come to the end of their period of service use and wanted to “exit” as good leavers, taking their data with them.  Although there were plenty of “that is a good question” and “we would work with our customer” responses, when pushed nobody had a good answer.  Bear in mind that I am not talking about a 5 man startup, these were blue chip organisations on both sides of the buyer/supplier fence.

It makes me realise how advanced/visionary/lucky (!) we were at my previous business IMPAQ (now part of Procserve) when we designed our Supplier eProcurement service.  Built in was the self-service ability for a supplier to export all of their procurement documents that were held by the service in a choice of open/well known document formats.  The data was kept for a period of time after the customer left with repeated automated notifications that access would be removed.  Even after access was removed the data was kept for an “expended” period.

So given all of the above it was with interest that I “re-found” an article from last November at The Register about Microsoft’s patent application that locks-down a method for moving data between different clouds.  To quote The Register:

“The technology in Microsoft’s filing covers the need for users to move data to a new cloud where the existing service has failed or the provider has gone out of business, or where the user simply finds a better deal or offering somewhere else online.”

As with most patent applications it is a stimulating and interesting read (Not!!).  However the top and bottom of it is that it appears to be talking to the very issues that I have been discussing with buyers and suppliers.

Are Microsoft taking a smart lead or will we find that another party jumps out with a “prior arts” objection?  Interesting either way.


About SJKParker

Discovering exceptional stakeholder value through innovative technology investments. 25+ years’ experience as a business and technology hybrid. Providing creative and challenging thinking that delivers alignment of essential business needs with innovative technology. Passionate leadership and business model transformation across large enterprises, start-ups, SMBs, and business turnarounds. Experience gained from working closely with leading software vendors on their global cloud strategy, provided associate services to industry analysts, sharing knowledge as a keynote speaker and writing a variety of books covering the Cloud space. Painting business pictures with an IT brush, providing Experience, Passion & Impact Specialties: Business model transformation, Evangelist and presenter, Cloud Computing, Software as a Service, SaaS, Office 365, Azure, Solution Architect, eProcurement, SPLA, Subscription licensing
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