John Kreisa

5 Things That Happen When You Get Locked In to an Application Platform

John Kreisa

The Consequences of Application Platform Lock-in 

If you’ve worked in IT for a few years, you’ve seen it happen. You select an application framework, operating system, database platform, or other infrastructure because it meets the checklist, the price is right, or sometimes because of internal politics. You quickly discover that it doesn’t play well with other solutions or across platforms — except of course it’s “easy and seamless” when used with offerings from the same vendor.

Locked gate

But try telling your developers that they can’t use their favorite framework, development toolset, or have to use a specific operating system for everything they do. If developers feel like they don’t have flexibility, they quickly adopt their own tools, creating a second wave of shadow IT.

And it doesn’t just affect developers. IT operations and security get bogged down in managing multiple systems and software sprawl. The business suffers because efficiency and innovation lag when teams get caught up in fighting fires.

Below are 5 things that can go wrong when you get locked in to an infrastructure platform:

#1 Other Platforms Become Inaccessible

Will the platform you pick work with any combination of public and private clouds? Will you get cornered into using a specific operating system for anything tied to their platform? When an infrastructure vendor pushes you to use their other platforms because they’re “well-integrated,” think carefully about whether you’re willing to limit your choices as this will likely cost more and result in unhappy developers.

#2 Your Best Developers Find Other Opportunities

Developers want to work with the best frameworks and tools for their task at hand. Node.js and .NET Core may be popular with developers, but there are a wide range of tools out there. The  2019 Stack Overflow Developer survey results, make it clear that  developers have diverse preferences and work best when they have the most choice and flexibility.

#3 Application Development Will Slow Down

If developers are forced into a particular development framework, innovation and creativity can be hindered. Good developers rarely have trouble finding work, so your best talent may leave. Even if most of your developers stick around, they’ll spend more time testing applications across platforms. What works on one machine won’t necessarily work on another if developers are busy finding work-arounds to use the tools they prefer.

#4 Operations Teams Will Spend More Time Fighting Fires

Keeping the lights on already consumes 70 to 80 percent of IT budgets. Using application platforms and tools from a single vendor may seem like it will save time, but the reality can be quite different. Other solutions come into the picture (usually whether you want them to or not!), creating silos of infrastructure that IT ops teams need to look after.

#5 The Business May Not Be Able to Pick the Best Technology

If you’re stuck primarily with one platform and framework but a new, promising tool isn’t compatible, you can either adopt another platform or pick a second-rate tooling. Platform lock-in means the business can end up forced to make technology choices that ultimately don’t serve the best interests of the company.

Platform Lock-in is Bad for Your Business

At Docker, we believe in simplicity and choice. We simplified containers and offer the broadest choice for developers and operators. You should be able to build, share and run applications across any combination of clouds, operating systems, languages and frameworks. That’s why Docker Enterprise works with every cloud provider, runs on all major operating systems, and supports Kubernetes for orchestration across that hybrid architecture. It’s no accident that containerd, the runtime engine developed by Docker, is the industry standard.

And developers love the flexibility Docker gives them. They even ranked Docker as the #1 “Most Loved Platform”, #2 “Most Wanted Platform” and #3 “Platform In Use” in the Stack Overflow survey. 

To learn more about how Docker gives you simplicity and choice: