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Title: A decision framework to mitigate vendor lock-in risks in cloud (SaaS category) migration
Author: Opara-Martins, Justice
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 8149
Awarding Body: Bournemouth University
Current Institution: Bournemouth University
Date of Award: 2017
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Cloud computing offers an innovative business model to enterprise IT services consumption and delivery. However, vendor lock-in is recognised as being a major barrier to the adoption of cloud computing, due to lack of standardisation. So far, current solutions and efforts tackling the vendor lock-in problem have been confined to/or are predominantly technology-oriented. Limited studies exist to analyse and highlight the complexity of vendor lock-in problem existing in the cloud environment. Consequently, customers are unaware of proprietary standards which inhibit interoperability and portability of applications when taking services from vendors. The complexity of the service offerings makes it imperative for businesses to use a clear and well understood decision process to procure, migrate and/or discontinue cloud services. To date, the expertise and technological solutions to simplify such transition and facilitate good decision making to avoid lock-in risks in the cloud are limited. Besides, little research investigations have been carried out to provide a cloud migration decision framework to assist enterprises to avoid lock-in risks when implementing cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions within existing environments. Such decision framework is important to reduce complexity and variations in implementation patterns on the cloud provider side, while at the same time minimizing potential switching cost for enterprises by resolving integration issues with existing IT infrastructures. Thus, the purpose of this thesis is to propose a decision framework to mitigate vendor lock-in risks in cloud (SaaS) migration. The framework follows a systematic literature review and analysis to present research findings containing factual and objective information, and business requirements for vendor-neutral interoperable cloud services, and/or when making architectural decisions for secure cloud migration and integration. The underlying research procedure for this thesis investigation consists of a survey based on qualitative and quantitative approaches conducted to identify the main risk factors that give rise to cloud computing lock-in situations. Epistemologically, the research design consists of two distinct phases. In phase 1, qualitative data were collected using open-ended interviews with IT practitioners to explore the business-related issues of vendor lock-in affecting cloud adoption. Whereas the goal of phase 2 was to identify and evaluate the risks and opportunities of lock-in which affect stakeholders’ decision-making about migrating to cloud-based solutions. In synthesis, the survey analysis and the framework proposed by this research (through its step-by-step approach), provides guidance on how enterprises can avoid being locked to individual cloud service providers. This reduces the risk of dependency on a cloud provider for service provision, especially if data portability, as the most fundamental aspect, is not enabled. Moreover, it also ensures appropriate pre-planning and due diligence so that the correct cloud service provider(s) with the most acceptable risks to vendor lock-in is chosen, and that the impact on the business is properly understood (upfront), managed (iteratively), and controlled (periodically). Each decision step within the framework prepares the way for the subsequent step, which supports a company to gather the correct information to make a right decision before proceeding to the next step. The reason for such an approach is to support an organisation with its planning and adaptation of the services to suit the business requirements and objectives. Furthermore, several strategies are proposed on how to avoid and mitigate lock-in risks when migrating to cloud computing. The strategies relate to contract, selection of vendors that support standardised formats and protocols regarding data structures and APIs, negotiating cloud service agreements (SLA) accordingly as well as developing awareness of commonalities and dependencies among cloud-based solutions. The implementation of proposed strategies and supporting framework has a great potential to reduce the risks of vendor lock-in.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available