Why independence is important for your ICT strategy

3 September 2021

Digital sovereignty in the public spotlight through the European cloud project Gaia-X

As we’ve mentioned in one of our previous blog posts, independence is one of our core values at Quobis. Working without investors permits us to make our decisions in the best interests of the customers rather than the investor’s. This philosophy doesn’t only apply to ourselves, though: we also help our customers gain more independence, which is especially valuable for their ICT strategy.

The concept of digital sovereignty is recently gaining momentum – not least because of the European cloud initiative Gaia-X. Companies and states want to take the decisions they consider to be the best without being restricted through external parties. They are increasingly concerned about losing control over their data and over their capacity to innovate. They see the risk of conceding too much power to only a few large tech companies.

Therefore, the goal of the project is to promote open technologies, grant high data protection transparency and interoperability.

The meaning of independence in the ICT sector

When it comes to the procurement of information and communication technology, many companies tend to choose one of the major vendors. They go with the seemingly safest option, living up to the old phrase “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”. Nowadays, this saying might not apply any more to IBM, but many organizations still tend to rely on a few major suppliers for their IT. Even though this approach seems to be safe at first sight, it turns out to be quite risky for several reasons:

  • Vendor lock-in: Many major providers have implemented these mechanisms that prevent companies from switching. This forces customers not only to stay with the chosen vendor – unless they accept significant switching costs – but also to buy additional equipment and software from the same provider.
  • Weak negotiation position: The first point leads to the customer becoming more and more dependent on the tech vendor. They end up in a situation where they don’t have any other option than to accept the vendor’s conditions and prices.
  • Missing innovation: In a competitive and rapidly changing world, companies need to be flexible and innovative. This is harder when facing restrictions from IT vendors that have a predefined set of options how the technology will be used.

While any major company would want to prevent being in such a situation, it’s especially risky for critical infrastructures, for instance in public institutions, research organizations or government agencies. These organisms need to work without restrictions and make their choices freely.

Open Source vs Commercial UCC software

A few companies who have understood this risk have made the radical decision to only work with open source software, which guarantees the highest level of independence, keeping their data and systems secure and controlled. However, this approach comes with a few problems, too. Embracing an open source strategy is a time-consuming and complex endeavour. The organization needs to invest resources for setting up and maintaining infrastructures. Especially when it comes to collaboration software, where companies need a proper integration with the existing telephony infrastructure, things become harder or even impossible with open source software. Scalability and proper support are further challenges that must be faced when working with open technologies.

At Quobis, we are aware of this conflict that many organizations face. While flexibility and independence are essential, they still need to count on a high reliability in their ICT infrastructure. In order to reach these goals, it is not always necessary to go the most extreme way and set up an open source strategy. Working with a smaller UC vendor can often combine the best out of both worlds: pursuing a self-determined strategy and own ideas, while relying on an experienced vendor with proper support.

Next article

Contributions of Quobis for the standardization of WebRTC

WebRTC has finished the process to become a W3C and IETF standard. Some weeks ago it was announced that WebRTC has finishe[...]