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Vendor lock-in is also ransomware

March 6, 2024

When software takes you hostage.

We mainly know ransomware in the form of being held hostage in the IT world. Hackers use ransomware as a means of blackmail over the Internet. Ransomware is malware that blocks a computer and/or data on it and then asks the user for money to "free" the computer again by means of a code provided for a fee.

There's another form of ransomware: it's called vendor lock-in.

This is when a company is held hostage by a supplier who only makes leaving or switching possible in combination with major (financial) consequences.

The six traps

There are a number of different categories of vendor lock-in. Below are the most common:

  • Monopoly - there's only 1 supplier, or a very limited number of suppliers, due to a lack of competition in the market. This works fine as long as the supplier does not behave opportunistically.
  • Intellectual property rights - in this category, the intellectual property lies with the supplier. This makes it hard to switch suppliers without continuing to pay for the previous services.
  • Early adopter - hindsight often shows that technology choices made at the outset of an innovation journey rarely turn out to be the best fit. Compounded over time, the early adopter's decisions bound the innovation.
  • Switching Costs - the one-off costs associated with switching to another supplier. These costs are an important factor in the decision to change.
  • Incompatibility - technology vendors create a lock-in by developing software that cannot interoperate with software from other vendors.
  • Dependence on people - people choose to deviate from standards by adjusting configurations or applying customisations. This category can also be created by yourself by allowing deviations from the standard.

Avoiding lock-in

The Luminos way of working ensures that your software remains independent from us and other suppliers. Among other things, we make extensive use of open source technologies and ensure that your application is platform independent by using containers. If desired, your application can run at multiple cloud providers. Furthermore, it is a matter of course for us that we transfer the rights to use the software to the customer.

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