News UK, the publisher of The Times and The Sun newspapers,is architecting its tools and systems to be cloud-agnostic, and is close to being able to switch cloud providers at will.
With many organisations complaining about being tied in to lengthy contracts at cloud suppliers, News UK CTO Christina Scott told V3 that her firm is not far from eliminating vendor lock-in completely.
"I've set a challenge for my teams to look at cloud balancing [distributing workloads across different clouds], and we're now getting very close to being able to switch between cloud providers at will. That means we can always take advantage of the best cost and features that are available," said Scott.
She explained that the biggest challenge is around architecting the tools and systems which sit within these clouds to be able to function in any vendor's environment. Scott added that most firms aren't yet close to this goal.
"Lots of people moved into the cloud but have now found that they're very tied in to AWS [Amazon Web Services] or whoever else. We're now looking at more of a serverless architecture, which helps with this flexibility."
Scott said that some of this work was already in progress when she joined in early 2016. "I can take no credit for any of that," she said.
At a recent event from V3's sister title Computing, a panel of CIOs advised the audience to avoid vendor lock-in issues simply by choosing a supplier you want to be with over the long-term.
Scott described News UK's technology estate as 85 per cent cloud-based, with the company already users of Google Docs and Gmail when she arrived.
"They've been using those systems for seven years already," she said. "The maturity of the cloud operations here is far beyond anywhere I've worked before."
However, Scott had some harsh words for some of the smaller vendors who pitch their services to her, complaining that eventually they all end up proving themselves to be too greedy.
"You get new vendors who pop up and they say 'We're not Oracle, we're not IBM, we're different,' and they all gradually become the same. Their prices always go up, and they become less transparent about billing. There are always add-ons, I feel they just get greedy."
She said that there have been some vendors she has worked with who were in the early stages of their business, which means that her custom helped them stabilise and grow. But instead of goodwill, she sees only more greed.
"You feel if you're there in the early days you've taken the pain of being on a less mature platform, you've helped them on their way. And you're rewarded only by bigger bills."
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