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All the major cloud providers - including Amazon, Salesforce.com, Microsoft and Google - use technology different enough so that switching from one to another would require customers to rewrite much of their software. (Jeremy King, chief technology officer of Wal-Mart Stores' e-commerce division, compares picking a cloud provider to staying at the Hotel California - "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.") Still, in the next five years about one-third of companies using the cloud may either switch providers to get a lower price or more features, or add another provider to get servers closer to customers or have a backup should one company suffer a meltdown, says David Linthicum, a consultant who creates cloud applications for companies.
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