In a previous post, I discussed the topic of vendor lock-in with cloud providers, and why I thought it was over-emphasized. I’d like to further highlight my stance using a real-life example of actual vendor lock-in which, in my opinion, is more concerning.

We recently realized that a product we had in our environment was raising their prices to a point where it was prohibitively expensive to run, and to divest from it we would need to do a good deal of software engineering.

We are doing that software engineering right now, and it’s going to cost us a fraction of the price to run compared to that product, with a very consistent and predictable cloud service pricing model.

The ‘build vs. buy’ thought process more often than not includes a sentiment of wanting to avoid the long-term costs and engineering maintenance from building a solution in-house. However, there are assumptions here of consistent pricing and good intent from vendors long-term – assumptions that aren’t always valid.

Another factor is the skill set attached to a product. If your product expert(s) leave, is there a readily available talent pool to fill the gap? Initially, it might seem easier to not hire developers or to not use your existing development talent towards building a solution for this particular use case; but it’s also important to keep in mind that many products have a limited talent base behind them, if any.

Before purchasing a product, here’s a test: Can you realistically advertise a job role specifically for that product? For instance, “{Insert-Product-Name-Here} Engineer.” If you can’t, reconsider the decision. And even if you can, think about the depth of that talent pool.

In the case of the product alluded to above, it merely added a layer on top of a cloud provider’s services, and at that, ones for which we well understood the predictable cost model. As mentioned previously, while many unnecessarily fear price hikes from cloud providers themselves, it’s the layers above that may pose more risk.