Walled Gardens, also known as Closed Platforms, is a software system where the service provider blocks 3rd party integrations. The goal of this practice is to lock the consumer into using products and services from a single vendor. Generally this strategy works only for the larger vendors that already have a significant user base and a collection of sibling products that can be sold as add ons to their original purchase. However, these ancillary products often fall short when compared with similar products on the open market, but because of the Walled Garden strategy they’re the only choice when a need arises.
As an example, if your shop ran an MIS system that only integrated with other products from the same parent company then you’ll almost certainly encounter barriers should you want to try the latest W2P offerings from another vendor. This will result in costly and error prone duplicate data entry between the two systems.
The best way to avoid this is to ask up front about integrating with outside systems before you lock into a major software or service purchase. However, don’t just limit the conversation to the list of supported systems. Ask about their API (application programming interface) and what would need to be done to get their system to work with an unsupported product. If you don’t at least get some discussion on quoting for a product integration, then you should express concern about their Walled Garden approach.