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Is PaaS Platform Lock-In a Hidden Threat to Your Business?

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings can be a powerful solution to the problem of scarce resources. By removing the complexity of managing underlying infrastructure and development environments, they make it possible to write, test and deploy new applications fast and efficiently. Since speed to market is now a key competitive differentiator, PaaS is a choice that can deliver a market advantage.  PaaS No-vendor lock-in one

The Shock of Unexpected Costs

But beware of the hidden traps. The billing practices of the major cloud vendors that dominate the PaaS market often lack transparency, and rapidly escalating costs have taken many customers by surprise. I’ve spoken to companies that have seen their cloud bills double, and double again, escalating by up to 500%—but when they tried to move, they discovered that the SQL server database their application was built on was proprietary to the cloud vendor.  

An organization in this position faces a nasty choice between two expensive options: absorb the extra cost, or re-architect their entire code base. Choosing to re-architect often requires a large investment in scarce skills and time—and during the time it’s happening, progress on the app development roadmap stalls.  

Could your company survive a six-month innovation hiatus on top of a large and unexpected expense? Many can’t, and so they’re stuck with their high-cost platform.  

Platform Choice is a Strategic Choice

Being locked into a high cost base might be survivable for companies in a high-growth sector, but it will certainly impact profitability—and for those who must watch their costs and margins, it can be devastating.  

Nobody ever plans to find themselves stuck like this, of course, but it happens all too easily—and too often. In the rush to get code written, development teams make technical decisions that seem trivial—we can always port it later, right? —but end up having serious strategic consequences. And given the low average tenancy of software development jobs, the person or team who made the decision may not even be around to see those consequences. 

 And yet the reasons to choose PaaS are still compelling: an organization that’s freed from the burden of maintaining base infrastructure can move faster, at lower cost, and get more done. So how does one avoid the pitfalls? 

Containerization is one solution—an application built within a Kubernetes or Docker environment is less exposed to platform vendors—but it does re-introduce some complexity and undermine the advantages of offloading infrastructure management in the first place.  

 Another option is to ask much harder questions about cloud-native architecture: 

  • What are the long-term costs and benefits of this platform?
  • Is this database proprietary?  
  • What is the supportability of this choice? 
  • What skills will we need and how widely available are they? 

Sometimes there’s a trade-off to be made between infrastructure or platform costs and skills costs: the more specialized and complex your environment, the smaller the available skills base is likely to be. 

 The last option, and the one we’re betting on at CloudSigma, is to choose vendor-neutral PaaS that puts the customer in control of their own platform, without reintroducing expensive complexity. That means all the advantages of complex features like automated deployment and scaling, freedom from managing patches and upgrades, and the ability to deploy your code anywhere you choose—while also keeping the billing model transparent and predictable.  

 So, if you’re looking for a language-agnostic PaaS solution that gives you the option to deploy your apps anywhere with zero code change while supporting all the most popular stacks in the market today—please talk to us at CloudSigma.  

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About Robert Jenkin

Robert is a Co-Founder and CEO of CloudSigma along with his long-time friend Patrick Baillie. Robert & Patrick had a vision for a different style of cloud focused around customer requirements not computing frameworks created by the service provider; an open environment where end-users could define their infrastructure in a highly flexible way with little or no restrictions, just like they were used to doing in their own private environments. Their shared vision was the genesis of CloudSigma in 2009 in Zürich, Switzerland and as with many great things, it began life sketched out on a napkin! Robert previously has experience in early stage venture capital and corporate finance in the City of London. Robert is a graduate in Economics from Cambridge University.