Blog post

Devising a Cloud Exit Strategy

By Kyle Hilgendorf | March 29, 2013 | 2 Comments


I’m happy to share today that our newest Gartner for Technical Professionals research is out: Devising a Cloud Exit Strategy: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

There is very little published in the industry about how to create a cloud exit strategy or plan.  If you search hard, you’ll find some blogs or magazine articles about why a cloud exit strategy is important, but almost nothing in terms of how you put the strategy and plan in place.

Proper risk management includes four pillars:  Accept, Avoid, Transfer and Mitigate.  For the last pillar, mitigate, customers have many options available: encrypt data, distribute availability, scale horizontally, enlist cloud brokers, implement hybrid architectures, monitor, alert, etc.  However, perhaps the ultimate risk mitigation is to have a cloud exit strategy.  While we all have faith in the future of cloud computing many events might occur that would warrant an exit from a cloud service including:

  • Provider’s services less reliable than advertised in SLAs, contracts or expressed expectations
  • Soured relationship with provider
  • Change in service levels
  • Change of provider ownership
  • Change of price
  • Change of terms and conditions
  • Expiration of enterprise agreement or contract
  • Lack of support
  • Data, security or privacy breach
  • Provider inability to stay competitive with industry features
  • Repeated or prolonged outages
  • Lack of remuneration for services lost
  • Change in your organization’s internal leadership, strategy or corporate direction

And so the remainder of this research focuses on how to put that cloud exit strategy and plan in place.  This is where we as GTP take pride, in delivering practical, How-to advice for our clients and it’s a focus for us at this year’s Gartner Catalyst conference in our Cloud Track.  Our Cloud Track Theme is “Cloud Services: Moving Past Partial Commitment”.  We’ve exhausted the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of cloud computing and for organizations to move past occasional uses of cloud services, we will be delivering how-to advice for:

  • Building cloud strategies
  • Mitigating cloud risks
  • Building and delivering cloud native applications
  • Managing and operating cloud applications and assets
  • Forging and managing cloud provider relationships
  • Building private cloud architectures
  • Leveraging Hybrid Cloud solutions
Are you using cloud services?  Are you prepared with a Cloud Exit Strategy?  Are you looking for more “how-to” advice? We hope to see you at Gartner Catalyst 2013!


Comments are closed


  • Dave Walker says:

    About a year ago, I wrote a presentation including a section arguing the same case (although you cite more cases for dropping a cloud service provider than I did); it comes down to architectural decisions which need to be made at the outset, before engaging the services of a CSP. I called it \Design for Deletion and Disengagement\, and it focuses on how, if you need to drop a CSP quickly – or if a CSP drops you – you can be reasonably confident that not only has effectively no useful recoverable data been stored by the CSP (so there’s nothing to get back – lawsuits can still fail in the face of Physics), but in a large number of cases (but not all), any transactions in-flight at the time of cessation of service will still complete.

    If you think this would be an interesting thing to discuss, drop me a line…

  • Kyle Hilgendorf says:


    It sounds fascinating and many of those similar details are within our research. It is unfortunate that so few people and organizations put the time and effort in up front to plan for potential exit or “disengagement” as you say. I think a lot of this is due to the fact that this planning takes time and money and does erode the ROI/TCO “sale” factor of public cloud – but organizations must put for the work nonetheless.

    I’ve talked to several organizations that find themselves needing to change or exit providers and because up front planning was not put in place, the level of effort/difficulty is very high.

    I suspect we will find exit planning to be even more important as the coming years progress.