Businesses don't need to concern themselves with the idea of being stuck in long deals with their suppliers, instead selecting vendors whose products will work for them over the duration.
That's one of the views to come out of a recent IT Leaders Forum event from V3's sister title Computing on 'Architecting your organisation for the future'.
Lukas Oberhuber, CTO at Simply Business explained that his firm is locked in with Amazon Web Services (AWS), but that the cloud provider continues to meet his needs.
"We are heavily locked in to AWS," Oberhuber admitted. "Vendor lock-in is the wrong question, you should ask 'Are you able to innovate and change systems fast enough to meet the needs of the business? So you should pick vendors that have same philosophy as you.
"When I examine vendors I look at those who look at development workflow. They don't want to own all our data, they allow us to work in a test-driven development manner, that's what I'm looking for. I want sytems testable so I can test before I go live. I want to deploy infrastructure as code, so I choose vendors who can supply that," said Oberhuber.
He added that it's up to organisations to define what their systems do, then they can always take that system and host it with another vendor once it has been translated appropriately.
"When you need to make that change it's not necessarily any fault of the vendor, but maybe your needs have changed. So the idea that I'm locked into Windows or Linux isn't as relevant any more as long as I pick the right tools on top that allow me to get what I need from that vendor."
He admitted that this wasn't always his philosophy, but one that has emerged with experience.
"My thinking has evolved over this, it used to be about being as abstracted as possible away from the vendors, but then you don't get the best tools," said Oberhuber.
For Nick Ioannou, Head of IT at Ratcliffe Groves Partnership, the question is more about getting locked-in with the best possible vendor.
"Some solutions cost as much to leave as to stay for another 15 years, so I need to make sure my lock-in is in a Mercedes as opposed to something else," said Ioannou.
The panellists also discussed their cloud use, with some happy to host as many systems and as much data as possible, with others content to remain almost exclusive on-premise.
Phil Durbin, Head of IT Systems at the Salvation Army, advised firms to spent as much time negotiating the exist and the entry to a deal.
"You could run 80 per cent of youre requirements on anyone's platform, it's whether you have the appetite to get to 100 per cent in terms of innovation," said Durbin.
"We look at smaller, higher risk vendors for non critical workloads as we see greater opportunity there. Then we look to big vendors for critical stuff as we know they'll deliver 80 per cent right throughout our lifetime. But you need to spend as much time negotiating the exit part of the contract as you do on your business as usual, and the on-boarding. Vendors will happily talk about this and want to ensure you don't need to activate the exit clause," Durbin concluded.
Earlier in the debate, the panellists can had complained that network speeds have failed to keep up with data volumes, with the result that it's quicker to move petabytes of information around by van, than via the internet.
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