Locked in the cloud: What lies beyond the peak of inflated expectations?




Davis, Corey
Durno, John

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



According to Gartner, cloud computing is “the most hyped subject in IT today.” (Hype Cycle Special Report, 2011). In the world of library technology, this observation is borne out by the intensive marketing of the emerging class of “Next Generation” library systems, which it is claimed will build economies of scale, eliminate redundancies in library workflow and infrastructure, and facilitate the development of innovative new services. But efficiency gains are just part of the cloud’s calculus. As Joe McKendrick recently wrote, “going with a cloud solution means buying into the specific protocols, standards and tools of the cloud vendor, making future migration costly and difficult.” (Forbes, 2012.) When a significant part of library’s data and technical infrastructure resides with a single cloud provider, what happens when license terms change for the worse, or costs increase excessively, or a better system comes along? What happens when you can only access your data via the vendor’s APIs? And is it even your data anymore? This presentation with examine the unique tension between the cloud and vendor lock-in, both generally and in relation to the experience of the our institution.