The kink in multicloud? Cloud software services built for lock-in- Valutrics

Breaking the code

There may be a way around it, Hurwitz said, but it’s not easy. If a company subscribing to cloud software services wanted to move those business processes along with the data, it would first have to figure out how to isolate custom coding from the underlying application.

Early relational databases presented similar problems, Hurwitz said. In the 1980s, when they proliferated in the market, coding could be done to the applications to customize them, but moving from one database to another was hard. Eventually, CIOs and CTO at companies that bought the database managed to isolate the process code from the application.

“But it took some really smart people to figure that out,” Hurwitz said. “We’re definitely not there with software as a service.”

Container technology could be the answer to unlocking cloud software services. That’s the popular virtualization technology that allows applications or pieces of them to be rapidly moved around. The custom code could conceivably be put into containers, and thus removed easily from the rest of the application. Some such innovation will happen — someday, Hurwitz said, but don’t look to vendors of cloud software services for it.

“It may be third parties that do that,” she said. “Because if you’re a SaaS vendor, why would you make it easier for somebody to leave? Believe it or not, that’s a big factor.”

New technologies like containers, as well as networks with greater bandwidth, may indeed help bring cloud software services into the multicloud fold, Kaplan said. But new problems will arise, along with our expectations of what cloud can do, he said. As advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are integrated into cloud services, cloud will be asked to do more, faster.

“We’re creating new challenges for ourselves every day by virtue of the higher expectations we have for what technologies should be able to do for us,” Kaplan said.