Colm Keegan at ESG wrote a blog questioning if fear of vendor lock-in is dragging down hyperconverged adoption. In simple terms, vendor lock-in is the situation where a customer is dependent on a product/service and not able to easily make a transition to another product/service without substantial switching costs. And, evidently, respondents to an ESG survey cited vendor lock-in as a top-two business concern for integrated computing platforms (ICP), which, in ESG terms, includes hyperconverged infrastructure.
When you are making a capital purchase, you expect to live with your decision for a three- to five-year period. For example, when purchasing a car, you tend to do your homework to make sure that the car is going to meet your needs for the time you expect to own it. You vet the manufacturer, dealer, and service track record for the model you are choosing. You know that in in three to five years (when your car loan is paid or your lease is up), you will purchase or lease another car — likely for another three- to five-year period. If you decide in one or two years that you need something different — maybe to accommodate an unexpected expansion of your family or as a result of a move to a climate where a convertible is impractical — you make the transition, as needed. If you suffer from poor customer service or you get a lemon, you have recourse. As Colm’s blog points out, “choices abound.” And, there are many “trade in” and “trade up” competitive programs offered by vendors, that most of the time you come out of without being financially bruised.
In IT, every capital purchase may not be as easy as my car analogy. This is generally due to interoperability issues, data migration, or the time investment required to deploy, integrate, configure, and get trained on the technology. This is definitely the case with technology like backup software, hypervisors, and ERP systems, conversions of VMs/data, maintaining the legacy for recovery, etc.
But what about hyperconverged infrastructure hosting virtualized workloads?
Hyperconverged infrastructure is agile infrastructure. The abstraction offered by virtualization (i.e., de-coupling applications from hardware and making hardware invisible) helps a lot to make the migration to new hardware very easy. Other than at the hypervisor level, there are little to no dependencies, integration, or (if you’ve made the right purchase) specialized training. The biggest investment is the capital expense and the time the IT team devotes to the purchase process and deployment.
Data migration is greatly simplified for virtualized workloads. With SimpliVity hyperconverged infrastructure, virtual machine centricity and mobility are at the core of the solution—SimpliVity makes data as mobile as the virtual machine, so it’s simple to move data to or from hyperconverged infrastructure. It’s no longer necessary to manage LUNs, shares or volumes. Instead, you just manage virtual machines.
So, I would question why “vendor lock-in” ranking as high as it did in ESG’s survey results. It sounds like this could be the result of a lack of education regarding hyperconverged infrastructure. Or, since ESG’s ICP definition includes converged infrastructure (i.e., multiple legacy infrastructure components cobbled together as a converged system) that it’s more of the status quo—the association of vendor lock-in with legacy infrastructure.
Unlike when buying or leasing a car, hyperconverged infrastructure, like cloud computing services, offers little to no risk of vendor lock-in. It’s an IT environment that offers rapid deployment, simple data migration, and minimal to no training required. If you decide it’s not a fit, it’s also easy to migrate workloads/data off the system. Still skeptical? Request a demo and see for yourself.