Standardized Open Source Products Are The Key To Unlocking The Lock-In Trap

Mårten Mickos | GIGAOM | July 20, 2014

Mårten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus Systems, argues that when companies lock in to their own design and customizations, it’s as harmful as when they lock in to a vendor. Mickos explains why he thinks using standardized open source products is the best way to avoid both types of lock-in.

When it comes to software and cloud services, the concept of lock-in has a heightened meaning. Vendor lock-in exists in all industries, but no where does it take you more by surprise than in software and cloud services. Much like when selecting a house renovation contractor, there’s a hidden penalty you pay both operationally and financially.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve served as CEO at several software companies, including MySQL and Eucalyptus Systems, where I am today. During this time, I have seen organizations large and small battle with lock-in. The cure they found was open source reference implementations of a widely accepted standard.

What to a customer first looked like an exciting new piece of software — easy to try, no strings attached — soon infests the organization and isn’t quite as easy to remove. That’s the definition of lock-in: A decision that later proves costly or impossible to get out of.  It’s ironic that the ease of adoption of open source can lead exactly to this situation...