Vendor Lock In

Lock in not always the vendors fault

It is usually network equipment vendors that get criticised for building products that lock customers into their technology portfolios and make it difficult for companies to switch supplier. So it is refreshing to see a customer stand up and admit mea culpa for the restrictions its own development teams have inadvertently applied to its desired architectural expansion.

Speaking in New York last week, Tsvi Gal – Chief Technology Officer at US bank Morgan Stanley – reportedly revealed ‘the worst vendor lock-in is our own’ due to a philosophy of building its own systems when viable alternatives could not be brought on the open market. He highlighted the need for open application programming interfaces (APIs) which would allow the bank to adopt SDN principles in support of portable cloud workloads and ‘stateless’ rather than ‘stateful’ applications which can be moved around its data centres, and presumably those of multiple service providers, more easily.

Of course, Morgan Stanley may continue to build its own systems – but make sure it develops the SDN controllers, APIs and orchestration platforms needed to make sure that its virtualised applications, services and workloads can be automatically provisioned and managed more effectively. Alternatively, it may choose to re-evaluate the commercial SDN solutions now available, many of which put a heavy focus on open frameworks and specifications which promote greater portability and interoperability across underlying infrastructure hardware.

Gal freely admitted that the businesses remain reluctant to embrace new technologies like SDN. But if one of the world’s biggest financial institutions can make the change (the bank is estimated to have 75,000 physical servers and 60,000 employees), you have to feel that anybody can.

Martin Courtney for Axians

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