Top 5 Cloud Migration Challenges and How Organizations Can Overcome Them

In recent times, cloud computing has caused a massive paradigm shift in the modern techno-business landscape. Recently, 59% of tech decision-makers said that they planned to be “mostly” or “all” in the cloud in 18 months, up from 38% who are mostly or all in the cloud today. The study also found that 92% of organizations’ IT environments are already partly in the cloud. This indicates that organizations are enthusiastically embracing the cloud — to scale operations, cut IT costs, balance agile innovation with business continuity, and ensure future survival.

Nonetheless, migrating to the cloud can be tricky. To ensure that migration challenges don’t hinder its success, it’s crucial to know what they are. Is your organization migrating to the cloud? Here are 5 common challenges and how you can avoid them for a successful migration program!

1. Lacking a Defined Cloud Migration Strategy

For many organizations, the decision to move to the cloud is rarely backed by a robust strategy or an understanding of the “why”. This can be a huge mistake, because cloud migration is not simply a matter of “lift and shift” using a “one-size-fits-all” solution. To ensure success, it’s crucial to create a strategy that clarifies what to move and modernize, and what to leave behind. The plan must also consider the possible migration costs and timeline, potential business downtime and the need for employee training.

Solution:

Analyze your organization’s current infrastructure and application portfolio, and decide how, when and where to migrate what. Create a multi-stage migration roadmap, and align business goals with expected benefits. Identify the non-essential data and applications, and migrate those first. Also consider how migrating your least critical applications will impact the overall IT ecosystem. This will help you scale up the complexity of your migration process, and make the journey simple and seamless.

2. Choosing the “Right” Cloud Service Provider

A number of Cloud Service Providers (CSP) operate in the market today, with giants like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform co-existing with many smaller players providing bespoke or niche services. This “problem of plenty” can make it difficult for organizations to choose the right provider for their needs. Vendor lock-in is another problem because often, businesses prefer to stick to one vendor even if it isn’t necessarily the best fit for them.

Solution:

Before selecting a CSP, be very clear on your migration goals. This will enable you to analyze the offerings of various CSPs and then choose the one best-suited to meet your goals. It will also help you identify the necessary cloud components w.r.t security, architecture and compliance, and select the right cloud environment — private, public or hybrid. Look for a CSP whose Service Level Agreement (SLAs) that clarifies their responsibilities, support levels, code/data portability, costs, and how they can help in case you want to stop using their services.

3. Keeping Migration Costs Low

For most organizations, moving to the cloud can be cost-effective in the long term, yielding increased efficiency, lower admin costs, and streamlined processes. However, getting to that stage can feel like an uphill and expensive battle, especially if the organization fails to analyze migration costs beforehand. The biggest costs include those related to rewriting application architecture, performance issues including latency and downtime, and of course, user training. Identifying these early is the key to avoiding nasty shocks later.

Solution:

Examine your business objectives, draw up a budget, and analyze the available cloud options. Evaluate the total cost of migration by considering elements like capital expenditure (server, network, etc.), operational expenditure (maintenance, bandwidth, etc.) and overhead expenses. Consider the cost of training people on the new technology, and the cost of rewriting or replacing data for cloud compatibility. To manage your investment, consider migrating to the cloud “incrementally”. If a full cloud migration is not possible, consider a hybrid cloud option. Migrate only those applications with varying usage, and keep the rest on-premise or in a private cloud.

4. Manage Security and Privacy

Unsurprisingly, security concerns are the major cloud migration barrier for many organizations. This is because adopting the cloud essentially involves asking a third party provider to hold onto their data. If the cloud environment is fully secured, you have nothing to worry about. But if not, it’s not just your organization’s data that’s at risk, but its reputation and even its very survival.

Solution:

Before signing up with a CSP, understand their security and governance practices, policies and procedures. Ask them where your data will be stored and whether it will be encrypted end-to-end. Ask which industry-standard regulations and frameworks they’re compliant with, e.g. GDPR, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, ISO 27001, etc. Also ask if they can ensure secure point-to-point migration, and that your data will always be protected behind a firewall so that it’s never visible to any third parties.

5. Overcome Adoption Resistance

People are often the biggest hindrance to cloud migration success because they’re resistant to change. This is understandable because cloud migration brings a lot of disruption with new systems, processes and even downtime. Nevertheless, the human element must be managed well, otherwise the chances of a successful migration are very low.

Solution:

Invest in a solid change management plan with a robust “people” element. This will help you manage the scope of the project and minimize disruption to the business and to personnel. Get leadership buy-in right from the start. If top leaders don’t understand the business need for the migration, it will be impossible to influence employee engagement and adoption later. Then instead of simply dumping the new technology on employees, explain the reasons behind the change. Create a positive culture around the migration, and ensure that people are adequately trained to adapt to the new ways of doing things in the cloud. Also, choose intuitive solutions that integrate with the current tech stack to make the new workflow smoother, minimize disruptions and increase employee efficiency.

Conclusion

Despite its many potential benefits, cloud migration can be a complex endeavor that can create many challenges for any organization. Nonetheless, these challenges are not insurmountable, as long as your enterprise recognizes them early and creates a plan to manage them. This can ensure a smooth migration journey and ensure that you reap the benefits of cloud-based IT operations for many years to come.

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