Cloud Strategy: All In or Total Portability

Organizations have two primary strategies when they move to the cloud.
  • Prioritize time to market. Use the cloud provider's services as they were built without customization.
  • Prioritize portability and capability. Focus on avoiding vendor locking by buying the best cloud-agnostic or building their own t meet their custom needs

Every technical or platform decision needs to include your cloud strategy as one of its primary drivers.  Decisions that deviate from the standard should be considered technical debt to be revisited later.

The cloud strategy is like any other PDCA.
  1. Select a strategy. Document the drivers for the decision.  
  2. Make the approach clear to the company. 
  3. Revisit the decision on a regular basis to align with business needs

The benefits of both approaches

Both strategies have their own advantages.  Those advantages are often the flip side of the other strategy's corresponding advantage.

Cloud Services First Cloud Agnostic - portable
One Throat to Choke
A single vendor can be held accountable.
No Vendor Lock-in
The company cannot be held hostage by a single vendor
Shorter Decision Cycle
Cloud service is used until it doesn't work.
Longer Decision Horizon
Selection criteria include longer term goals.
Adapt your business to the platform. 
As few changes as possible to speed adoption.
Bend the platform to your business
The platform is customized to match business processes.
Faster is better than better
Prioritize speed and adjust or reselect later.
Portable and better is best
Prioritize avoiding vendor lock-in.
Metered - pay for use.
Linear cost with usage.  Scale-up and down.
Fixed or limited cost variability
Cost based on contracted items.  Defer true-up
Access to work done by others
Work done for you improves platform.

The effort is not shared with others
Your value-add stays inside and cannot be leveraged by others.


This talk expands on the advantages of the different approaches.

Personal Experience

I've worked in organizations where we took both strategies.  

At one organization we used as many of the cloud services as possible.  In general, we decided to write some of our own code on top of the cloud tools instead of moving to a SaaS solution. We only selected third-party tools if the cloud provider had no capable solution. We revisited those decisions on a regular basis.

At another organization were all about building everything ourselves.  We pretty much always chose to build our own. Third-party tools were something to use until our own could be built. Our in-house platforms were considered a competitive advantage.  Sometimes our solutions were better and sometimes they were less capable than the cloud alternatives. 

Created 2021 10

Created 2021 10


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