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Signing up with a cloud provider? Don’t forget to set an exit plan

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In my last post, I wrote about a cloud platform (Rackspace) that made leaving its environment impressively difficult. So it makes sense now to explore ways companies can better prepare for an exit — and precisely how to exit when the time comes. 

The problem is that few legal departments focus enough on exit details, especially when they just negotiated a new, long-term agreement. It’s not merely about getting easy permission to depart; it’s also important that IT ensures that any decisions don’t complicate things when it’s time to make a break.

Complex global cloud arrangements can get complicated in 2022; the trick is that cloud-based capabilities that make data-sharing and data-protection efficient and friction-free tend to include lots of proprietary elements. Those are precisely the kind that tend to lock-in an enterprise and complicate a departure down the road. 

Cloud providers “make it easier for you to use their native services,” which are invariably proprietary and have a degree of lock-in, said Rich Cracknell, a cloud security leader at McKinsey’s Silicon Valley office. 

Cracknell’s McKinsey colleague, Justin Greis, added that these cloud services can be “highly dependent (on that cloud environment) and tightly coupled. You need to do an app-by-app analysis to see how tightly coupled each one is. Do we refactor it now or do we move it as is and kick that can down the road?” 

The reality is that most enterprises, especially in the Fortune 500 and larger category, are going to already have a cloud presence with multiple cloud environments. That ideally means that IT already has an excellent sense of how the major platforms differ. That said, when it comes time to move from one to another (said Greis: “Amazon doesn’t necessarily play well in the Google world”), unpleasant surprises are all but certain.

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