Five steps to make your business cloud agnostic

Ditching flashy extras and choosing open source containers are two of the ways to avoid cloud lock-in, says Peter Scheffel, chief digital officer of BBD.

Johannesburg, 07 Jun 2019
Read time 4min 10sec
Peter Scheffel, chief digital officer of BBD.
Peter Scheffel, chief digital officer of BBD.

Cloud lock-in is a growing concern for businesses that have invested considerable time and resources in transitioning their new or legacy systems to the cloud.

That's because once the honeymoon phase of transitioning wears off, you start to ask yourself these questions: "How portable is my cloud solution?" or "How easy is it to move my systems to another cloud provider?"

Says Peter Scheffel, chief digital officer of BBD: “By then, it’s usually too late to avoid the issue and you’ve locked yourself into using a single cloud provider and its attractive features. This is not where companies want to be.”

When the concept of cloud was first introduced, it was explained that cloud computing would work as a utility. There are currently three main cloud providers or utilities: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. 

Scheffel explains that each utility uses a different type of plug and runs at a different voltage. “They all have elaborate reasons why their voltage choice is the best, but if you want to be a cloud-agnostic consumer and avoid being locked in to a single vendor and their features, then you’ll need the same plugs with the same voltages.”

Now that we know the why, let’s talk about the how. BBD, a cloud-agnostic software development company with specialist experience migrating both new and legacy systems to the cloud, has identified the following five-step checklist to help you make sure your business avoids cloud lock-in.

Step 1: Ditch the glitz

Each provider tries their utmost to sell you on their specific cloud lock-in features, because that’s good for their business. “Whether it’s artificial intelligence, image and speech recognition, or secure authentication that catches your eye, know that it can only be used with that specific provider,” warns Scheffel. 

If you’re looking to be completely cloud agnostic, ask yourself if you really need all those cloud features to decide whether the flashy extras are worth it.

Step 2: Container management tools are your best friend

An easy step to take to ensure that your solutions are cloud agnostic is to deploy only standard open-source containers and container management tools. “In simplistic terms, this means stick to Docker and Kubernetes,” advises Scheffel.

Why? Because they allow for increased deployment agility and control, and can easily run across private, on-premises or public clouds, but are extremely complex to manage yourself.

Step 3: On-site first, cloud later

Scheffel suggests that you should deploy on-site before deploying to the public cloud. This allows you to gain experience with your application and become familiar with it in your own environment before running it in a public cloud.

This step may seem strange to those who believe that they should only be on the cloud, but as Scheffel points out: “It should be considered because of the ability it allows for self-hosting your solutions during times of low usage or other scenarios." 

However, if your organisation has decided to move away from on-premises entirely, then you can skip this step.

Step 4: Move to the current preferred cloud provider

If you are cloud agnostic, then this decision should be based on cost. The availability of the service should not be a differentiator, and Internet speed should rightfully be consistent across all providers. Each provider should be able to supply you with a managed Kubernetes cluster to host your solution.

Scheffel says what’s key here is that your services need to be managed for you to get real benefit in using cloud providers.

Step 5: Move to other cloud providers or multi-host depending on the best deal

Up until now, this step would sound ridiculously hard and the thought of manually migrating to other clouds would often be shied away from. But with the growth and adoption of newer products in the market, this step is becoming easier by the minute. 

Google recently launched Anthos, a managed service that allows you to manage your entire cloud deployment (on-premises or to any cloud providers) from a single screen.

Scheffel concludes that the easiest way to make your business cloud agnostic is to find a technology partner who understands cloud software development, and work with them to achieve this goal. “With a company like BBD, the ability to make cloud-agnostic deployments aligns closely with our own strategy. We help you choose the best way to host your solution across the clouds or to help you unlock your current solution from being able to only run in one cloud.”


A provider of custom software development and application design solutions - BBD’s almost 35 years of technical and developer expertise spans the banking, finance, insurance, telecommunications, education and public sectors. BBD is a global custom software development powerhouse employing over 700 highly skilled, motivated and experienced IT professionals. BBD is 51% black-owned and a level 2 B-BBEE partner, with a 125% B-BBEE recognition.

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