6 Common Challenges When Migrating To The Cloud And How To Overcome Them
The pandemic birthed a new era of cloud adoption. Despite earlier projections that cloud spending would decline by 2020, cloud computing experienced faster growth than other sectors and is projected to maintain this growth through 2025 as more businesses make their move to the cloud.
The pandemic and the subsequent global recession led more companies around the world to see the need for decentralization, IT systems that support remote work, as well as the potential for increased agility and near-limitless scale.
While these incentives are enticing, the process of cloud migration can be intimidating. Organizations have to deal with uncertainty about cloud costs, the delicacy of laying a cloud foundation, security concerns, and many more issues.
You can be successful in your adoption of cloud computing processes despite the associated rigor.
Here are some of the most common cloud migration challenges and the steps that you can take to overcome them.
Avoiding vendor lock-in in the cloud
Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) tend to have restrictions that can make it difficult for organizations looking to achieve interoperability across different cloud platforms.
This challenge is often referred to as vendor lock-in. For example, Apple locked in its users when it made sure all music purchased via iTunes was compatible only with an iPod, the Tunes applications, and certain outdated Motorola phones.
Vendor lock-in can affect a customer in several ways:
- If there’s a decline in services the vendor offers, the business will be stuck with an inefficient provider.
- If a vendor makes significant changes to its product offerings, they may no longer be compatible with the business’s requirements.
- A spike in the price of the vendor’s offerings may exceed expenses estimated in the organization’s IT budget.
- The concentration risk of a widespread cyberattack that compromises the vendor’s control plane will leave the organization’s data, applications, and infrastructure completely vulnerable.
You can avoid vendor lock-in by taking the following measures:
- Invest in training stakeholders or hiring cloud experts, who will help the organization understand the implications of vendor lock-in and identify solutions.
- Do proper research on vendors and identify commonalities among the services they provide. This will help you determine which cloud solutions are right for your business needs and the benefits you can reap from them in the post-migration phase.
- Use open-source products to encourage flexibility and avoid proprietary products whenever possible.
- Formulate an exit strategy that will ensure a smooth transition and prevent overdependence on a vendor.
- Ensure your data is portable by working with vendors that support more open standards.
Skill upskilling is imperative in a cloud migration strategy, given the sensitivity involved in planning and designing one. However, as more organizations compete to migrate to the cloud, the demand for cloud migration experts exceeds the supply.
Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) have to fill the tall order of finding cloud engineers experienced enough to lay a strong foundation for efficient cloud migration.
More than 70% of IT leaders see the skills gap as an urgent concern, according to Cloudreach, an Atos company, and a leading multi-cloud services provider. This shortage of cloud talent coupled with the need for cloud professionals to stay abreast in the ever-evolving cloud industry poses a huge challenge to enterprises in search of skilled talent.
If you decide to hire a cloud migration consultant, you should also consider training your in-house team on cloud skill sets as a long-term, cost-effective solution.
Given their familiarity with legacy technology and processes, training your current employees will give you an edge in coming up to speed with cloud solutions that meet your business needs.
You can maximize your cloud training program in several productive ways:
- Find someone who can work closely with your team.
- Create a learning structure that facilitates consistent learning to enable your team to keep up with the short shelf life of cloud skills.
- Incorporate a gradual cloud adoption system to enable your team ease into the realm of cloud computing.
- Let the coach train the team on a small project and access their progress as they proceed.
- Gradually progress to a point where the coach assigns tasks to your team, allowing them to work independently and seek assistance from the coach only when needed.
Following a structured learning plan such as this will allow your team to be hands-on and learn under the supervision of a coach who guides and monitors their learning.
Laying a solid cloud foundation
Many companies rush into cloud migration without exercising due diligence — laying a solid cloud foundation. According to Mckinsey, companies that establish a solid cloud foundation tend to be eight times as fast in cloud migration and realize a 50 percent reduction in migration costs over the long term.
Unfortunately, many organizations miss out on enjoying these benefits, in their attempt to avoid the tedious process of building a cloud foundation. Instead, they end up paying the price in the form of huge expenditure on hiring dozens of cloud engineers to correct the errors resulting from a faulty cloud foundation.
Companies need to base their cloud adoption strategy on a strong foundation to produce a cloud environment — with a highly scalable and reusable framework — that supports their IT workloads.
Here are some ways to go about building a solid cloud foundation:
- Use isolation zones to prevent configuration changes done on applications in one zone from affecting applications in other zones.
- For organizations migrating to a multi-cloud environment, build configuration templates and use them across all isolation zones — including those positioned in a different Cloud Service Provider (CSP) from the central point.
- Leverage the unique automation tools the cloud provides to automatically execute the deployments that support your workloads. This includes infrastructure provisioning, identity and access management (IAM), cloud monitoring, compliance, and so on.
- Design a scalable cloud architecture with the help of experienced engineers.
- Take a Security as Code (SaC) approach to achieve fast and agile security for your workloads.
Prioritizing what to migrate to the cloud
Although Gartner predicts a 75% increase in database migration to the cloud by 2023, lightweight applications used by small to medium-sized businesses will account for most of this growth since they tend to be more agile than larger organizations.
Large organizations often face the challenge of dealing with large-scale applications and significant amounts of data. They have to choose between migrating large amounts of data or distributing the data in smaller chunks.
If they go with the latter, they still have to prioritize what to migrate first. In addition, CTOs find it difficult migrating unstructured data when working with a target database that supports both structured and high-volume unstructured data.
Organizations can solve this problem by taking a step-by-step approach to migrating the entire database, taking into consideration the nature and volume of services being migrated.
Concerns over data breaches and compliance risks
Many organizations remain skeptical about the safety of migrating their confidential data to the cloud, even though cloud platforms are highly secure.
This reluctance comes down to several reasons. First, organizations that collect personal client data are tasked with the responsibility of safeguarding it themselves without involving cloud providers, in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Another concern is the risk of misconfigurations when migrating to the cloud, which can lead to a security breach.
Though cloud platforms are highly secure, you still need to take extra precautionary measures by asking your cloud provider questions like:
- Where is the data stored?
- Is there secure communication? (end-to-end encryption)
- What prebuilt security features does the cloud provider have in place?
- Can they deliver a Security as a Service model? (If you’re willing to go the extra mile with your security measures).
- What are their cloud compliance frameworks? (ISO 27001, SOC 2, NIST, HIPAA, etc.)
Obtaining these insights provides extra reassurance about the reliability of the vendor’s security procedures.
Cloud migration costs
Cloud migration comes with several cost incentives, but the potential costs of the actual migration still scare away organizations.
Not only are estimated expenses significant, but they can also be unpredictable due to factors such as a poor migration strategy, incompatible workloads, and the degree of technical skills needed.
To navigate uncertainty about your cloud migration costs, consider the costs that would be incurred in the pre-migration phase, the actual migration phase, and the post-migration phase.
Take into consideration these parameters within the three phases:
- A thorough evaluation of your on-premises environment: This will help you ascertain the cost of the migration process and the cost of infrastructure you will be using in the cloud.
- Examine your infrastructure, workloads, and software to determine which ones are suitable for migration and which ones are not. Also, check your software and applications for compatibility issues.
- The cost of manpower: Estimate the cost of training your in-house staff or hiring a cloud expert, if that’s what you decide to go for.
- The pricing model of your prospective cloud provider.
- The degree of complexity of the infrastructure you want to create.
- The cost of data migration.
- Post migration costs such as the costs of the cloud services, infrastructure maintenance, operations, application testing and integration, data security and compliance, monitoring, training, labor, and so on.
Cloud migrations come with some challenges despite their potential benefits. But you can streamline your move to the cloud by formulating a comprehensive strategy that not only factors in these challenges but also includes solutions tailored to your business needs and objectives.