Hyperscalers in the Cloud: How to Keep Your Flexibility and Independence

Easy Start with Hyperscalers

Hyperscalers provide cloud compute and network infrastructure services on a large scale. Well-known hyperscalers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure. These cloud resources are easily accessible and scalable. As service options and resource availability seem to be almost unlimited, these platforms attract many users and development startups to roll out their software services. Since starting and growing your business on these platforms is so easy, it’s hard to resist the benefits these sizeable public cloud providers can offer.

Vendor Lock-In as you Scale

Because these hyper-scale platforms are mostly built from scratch, and even though they all offer similar services, every hyperscaler is built differently. This results in proprietary services, which can ultimately cause a vendor lock-in without your developers realizing it. Actually, the term ‘lock-in’ is incorrect, as you should think about it as ‘high switching costs.’ The costs and efforts to switch to another hosting platform or provider can become high if you develop your services with the proprietary services of a hyperscaler.

In commercial terms, a lock-in means that you can get started, but then you can never leave. This is less of an issue with basic services. However, the lock-in becomes more evident with more advanced services. For example, AWS S3 object storage, a very convenient service at a seemingly low cost to store new data, makes it unaffordable for many organizations with high volumes of data to migrate it away from that service due to AWS’ pricing model. And when your business grows in popularity, the scaling of the underlying resources and your increased usage may result in unforeseen invoices due to the intrinsic pay-per-use models used by these platforms. For many customers, it’s necessary to hire dedicated consultants to manage their hyper-scale infrastructure usage and prevent their costs from skyrocketing. Networking costs, for example, can quickly become more than expected with hyperscalers.

Is Pay-Per-Use an Answer?

Some organizations prefer to scale down costs and move away from expensive pay-per-use models because of the lack of personal contact with hyperscalers and the technical lock-in due to their proprietary services. Pay-per-use models seem very interesting in cases where you only use what you need and when you need it. However, in many cases, your application is required 24/7 or can’t be scaled down when the load isn’t high enough. This is when pay-per-use models can suddenly become very expensive.

Flexibility with Pay-Per-Reservation

The balance for many organizations is to go for infrastructure as a service, use standard (open source) software solutions to run services instead of ready-to-use proprietary services on hyperscaler platforms, to remain flexible and independent. Running your software on standard infrastructure services at ‘fixed’ fees (pay-per-reservation) at your own hosting provider typically results in more predictable invoices at the end of the month. And in many cases, with more resources or higher performance, at lower costs.

Future-Proof Multi-Cloud Strategy

The budget hyperscalers dedicate to innovation is impressive. However, sooner or later, they will want to earn it back. Considering the technical lock-in and the high costs of migrating your environment from a proprietary platform to another platform, you may want to identify the risks before you embrace hyperscaler services fully. As the benefits of hyperscalers can be tempting, consider incorporating at least a multi-cloud strategy to keep some of your flexibility and independence, now and in the future. Multi-cloud strategies are supported by Cloud Connect services, for example, as a way to interconnect your environments with multiple cloud providers.