Common Cloud Adoption Missteps Part 2: Adoption and Management Stages

Common_Cloud_Adoption_Missteps_PT2_2 Common Cloud Adoption Missteps Part 2: Adoption and Management Stages

Welcome back to the Cloud Adoption Missteps series, for part two: focusing on the adoption and management stages. If you haven’t already checked out our first blog post in the series for the Planning and Strategy Phases, check it out here. It covers all the easily remedied errors that one can make when following the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure in the Adoption and Management Stages, and how to avoid them. 

In this article, we’ll be focussing on a different part of the cloud adoption framework timeline, the adoption and management stages. We’ll go over the antipatterns during both of these situations and how the cloud adoption missteps can be avoided. For more detailed information on what the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure entails and why antipatterns are blockers for success, please refer to the aforementioned article linked above.

Common Cloud Adoption Missteps During the Adoption Stage:

The adoption stage of the Cloud Adoption Framework focuses primarily on cloud migration and what it means. Cloud migrations are the different approaches through which workloads can be moved to the cloud. For more details on cloud migration for workloads, you can check out Microsoft’s Azure Migration Guide Overview. There are four antipatterns that can occur during the Adoption Stage that we will be discussing: a lack of guardrails, a lack of assessments, forced architecture, and the use of a single subscription. 

Trying to Innovate Without Guardrails

When organizations are first trying to migrate their workloads to the cloud, it can be seemingly simple. It often feels as though there’s a lot of flexibility, which is great. But the majority of the time, when those workloads need to have increased productivity or need to store data, progress will drastically slow. This is where the idea of implementing security and compliance guardrails is highly effective. Guardrails ensure that workloads follow security and compliance regulations. Checking the guardrails with IT is an important step, especially for hybrid workloads. For more information on Azure’s “landing zones” for guardrails, click here.

Attempting to Migrate Without Extensive Assessments 

In order to plan accurately for a migration or modernization project, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Without thorough planning, organizations risk creating a lot of unexpected downtime or missed potential due to not thinking the architecture or other aspects through. 

There are a few ways to get around this antipattern. For larger-scale projects, it’s crucial to undergo a thorough infrastructure assessment before the migration process begins. Modernization projects require the identification of coding antipatterns and technical debts. On the other hand, for innovation-based projects, check out this Azure guide for innovative solutions here. Finally, for large projects or workloads that need architecture change, it may be a good idea to undergo an architectural design session.

Using a “One Size Fits All” Approach to Architecture 

On the topic of architecture, one of the easiest mistakes to make is dictating your architecture. Assuming that one architecture approach will fit all of your workloads is a grave error. Instead of fixating on one architectural style, for example a microservice architecture approach, undergo an extensive assessment so your decisions can be rooted in data. Choosing an architectural approach just because other organizations are using it and it’s successful for them, doesn’t guarantee favourable outcomes for your own projects. 

Trying to Migrate with One Subscription 

Finally, trying to utilize only one subscription for all of your organization’s workloads leads to problematically designed landscapes. Then your organization is at risk for running into subscription limits, which would require time-consuming architecture adjustments. The solution is to use segmentation. Separating different tasks for various environments minimizes the chances of hitting subscription limits. Using a segmentation strategy in this situation is key; this article from Microsoft outlines what that could look like. Check it out here.

Common Cloud Adoption Missteps During the Management Stage:

We now move on to the next step of the Cloud Adoption Framework: the management stage. As aforementioned, yes, it is crucial to take care of cloud adoption and remedy those antipatterns, but it is just as important to maintain the operation of your digital assets in order to ensure smooth sailing. Not having a plan to follow in terms of managing cloud solutions, all that progress can slowly fade. There is one main antipattern during the management stage: fixating on IT tool chains.

Neglect of Business Outcomes 

It is so easy to get caught up in the ease that modern IT tools create, and the relief that it gives to team members by taking care of small tiresome tasks. And while it is beneficial to take advantage of the positives that new IT tooling has, it’s also important to measure exactly how much each tool chain is helping. The way to do this is by ensuring that your technology and business goals align. By having leaders from each of these areas come together and unanimously create business/technology goals, it’s much more clear as to whether those expectations are being met. Measuring success through business outcomes means that your organization is constantly focused on increased growth.

What’s Next?

This article was the second part of a four-part series focusing on common cloud adoption missteps while using the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure. Stay tuned for our next article which focuses on cloud adoption antipatterns for the next stage of the framework.

Many organizations find it beneficial to work with a Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) when undergoing cloud adoption. Read our article on the benefits of using a CSP.

If you’re interested in having Optimus as your CSP, you can reach us at: info@optimusinfo.com

Common Cloud Adoption Missteps during the Strategy and Planning Phase

Common_Cloud_Adoption_Missteps_2-1 Common Cloud Adoption Missteps during the Strategy and Planning Phase

 

There are many roadblocks along your journey to digital transformation. Following the guidance from the Cloud Adoption Framework closely is essential when undergoing your cloud migration.  While the Cloud Adoption Framework helps make cloud adoption easier, there are still several missteps that can lead you astray. In this article, we’ll briefly review the Cloud Adoption Framework, the main missteps made during the strategy and planning phases, and we’ll also provide some quick remedies to easily avoid these mistakes. 

 

A Review of The Cloud Adoption Framework

Microsoft’s Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure was developed as the One Microsoft cloud adoption approach. It consolidates advice and guidelines from Microsoft professionals and customers throughout the industry into one best practices guide. It shares the full lifecycle framework with detailed tips and information. If you want to learn more about the Cloud Adoption Framework, check out our previous article on the topic here.

In this article, we’ll be going over cloud adoption antipatterns. Antipatterns are missteps that occur during the cloud adoption process, usually in the design, planning, or implementation stages. They are often blockers that prevent organizations from reaching goals and achieving innovation. Next, we’ll cover common cloud adoption missteps that occur in the planning and strategy phases and how to avoid them. 

caf-diagram Common Cloud Adoption Missteps during the Strategy and Planning Phase

Cloud Adoption Framework diagram provided by Microsoft.

Common Cloud Adoption Missteps During the Strategy Phase

The strategy phase of the Cloud Adoption Framework looks at documenting business strategies and outcomes from your organization so that key stakeholders and your team members have a clearer picture of what’s going on. Two main antipatterns can take place during this stage of cloud adoption: inadequate motivation and misaligned motivation.

Inadequate Motivation

When an organization adopts the cloud without clear or well-defined goals in mind beforehand, many issues often follow. It’s hard to measure project performance without predetermined indicators of success. If a company announces cloud-led strategies without thinking through what that actually entails, it doesn’t truly give them the benefits of cloud adoption.

Organizations can avoid this simple mistake by defining their goals and KPIs before embarking on their cloud adoption journey. In doing this, measures of success become more clear and project success also becomes replicable.

Misaligned Motivation

Sometimes cloud adoption plans can fail when motivations are misaligned or not properly communicated within a company. For example, if a business sees a benefit in a specific cloud adoption strategy but does not share that with the rest of the organization, other departments have a more difficult time onboarding these strategies and implementing them.

This issue can be mitigated by clearly outlining and sharing reasons for specific cloud adoption strategies with the entire company. It creates a cohesive environment within the organization that allows for those strategies to be built upon successfully and with ease. 

Common Cloud Adoption Missteps During the Planning Phase

The planning phase of the Cloud Adoption Framework looks at taking the goals formulated during the strategy phase and turning them into a tangible plan. This cloud adoption plan can then guide teams to stick to the strategies they came up with previously, as well as helps to prioritize cloud adoption motivations. There are three main antipatterns that often take place during this stage: wrong operating model, wrong service model, and replacement instead of modernization.

Wrong Operating Model

In choosing the wrong operating model issues such as misunderstandings, extra pressures on the IT department, and more can ensue. This is due in part to the fact that the operating model is not lining up with the company’s priorities and goals as defined in the strategy stage. 

One way to mitigate this issue is by comparing models with your current operating plan before switching over. By analyzing the pros and cons of each model and weighing the benefits, it will be much easier to find the right fit. To learn more about comparing cloud operation models, read this guide from Microsoft.

Wrong Service Model

It’s important to properly look at and understand the differences between a PaaS and IaaS service model. Some may assume that a PaaS service model is more cost-efficient but that’s not always the case, and making this assumption can sometimes lead to product delivery delays, unexpected cost increases, and more. 

The best way to avoid this issue is to minimize disruption to your business at the beginning of the cloud adoption process. Using IaaS and gradually adopting a PaaS model will allow for less disruption and will also give your team some time to gain cloud adoption skills.

Replacement Instead of Modernization

Replacing large and complex products or application environments is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. Yes, it’s true that working in old, complex architecture landscapes is far from ideal and can lead to delays and issues. But completely replacing these systems is often very costly and involves many risks. 

Instead, looking at modernization as an option is a better alternative. Small, persistent changes to your systems can often have a bigger and safer impact than completely switching your software. As well as this, it’s often quicker and usually much cost-efficient. 

 

What’s Next?

This blog article is the first of a four-part series focussing on common cloud adoption missteps. Follow along with us to learn about some common errors in the next stages of the cloud adoption framework. 

 

 

Many organizations find it beneficial to work with a Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) when undergoing cloud adoption. Read our article on the benefits of using a CSP here

If you’re interested in having Optimus as your CSP, you can reach us at this email: info@optimusinfo.com

How to Get Your Cloud Migration Right

In the modern world of emerging technologies, organizations that rely on legacy systems can start to lose competitive advantage and experience a decline in customer experience. A popular driver for cloud migration is the rising need to achieve enhanced performance and operational efficiency alongside achieving robust security and data protection. Other reasons for migrating include the cost savings, scalability, reliability, availability, and flexibility the cloud offers. 

However, migrating to the cloud requires thorough analysis and planning to take advantage of the benefits listed above. A clear-cut strategy for migrating enables organizations to avoid hidden challenges and extra costs that might accrue over time because of a half-hazard migration. 

Additionally, not carefully defining organizational needs and project scope in advance can result in performance issues and low return on investment, defeating the purpose of migration. This article discusses how to get your cloud migration right to avoid these issues.

Choosing the Right Approach to Migration

When planning a cloud migration, one key consideration is deciding the right approach to adopt. Different methods are more suitable for specific workloads, and the nature of the existing content management system plays a fundamental role in determining which one will work best.

Big-Bang

This approach to cloud migration involves a switch from the legacy or on-premises setup to the cloud in a single operation. The process essentially is a part of a large program that often is carried in a single migration window involving a predetermined downtime. Such an approach eliminates the need to run the two systems (on-prem as well as cloud) simultaneously during or after the migration sprint.

For organizations with systems that do not operate 24/7 or have less complex migration workloads, Big-Bang is often considered as the suitable cloud migration approach.

On the other hand, for organizations that have business-critical or complex applications, Big-Bang poses a high risk to cloud migration as any issues that arise during the migration process can extend the system downtime and have a negative impact on business operations. 

Phased

A phased approach tackles the migration of workloads from an onsite environment to the cloud in a clearly defined incremental manner. Bit by bit, modules, subsystems, or volumes of the source system are migrated to the target environment. Each increment or update of the target system undergoes testing to identify and resolve bugs before the next occurs.

The result of a phased approach is eventually an extended migration period. The implication for the longer migration timeframe is the increased cost of migration, effort, and potential loss in business, if not planned well. However, the risks associated with this staggered method are minimal.

Selecting the Right Technical Strategy

While every organization may opt for a specific use-case or migration strategy, the following are some of the general technical strategies to apply during a cloud migration process:

Single or Mulit-Cloud

When migrating to the cloud, organizations must decide whether they want to choose a single cloud provider and optimize their application for that cloud platform or run it across multiple vendor platforms. With a multi-cloud deployment, organizations have three options to choose from based on their specific requirement. These are: 

  1. Different applications in different cloud platforms, 
  2. Split a single application across multiple providers, or 
  3. Build a cloud-agnostic application entirely.

Maintain Robust KPIs & Performace Baselines

Set up additional cloud-related KPIs and baselines to compare the performance of migrated workloads with predetermined expectations. Doing this enables teams to identify problems within the application and verify the migration status in terms of success and completeness.

Identify Key Components to Migrate

Identify connections and dependencies between key components. Doing so enables teams to select critical components to migrate and prioritize their migration. Some common examples include Datawarehouse and ERP applications that are critical to an organization’s day-to-day operations. 

Prepare a Data Migration Plan

Data migration is an intricate yet integral part of the migration process. This is because migrating the data ultimately affects the performance of related applications and can potentially impact the overall business operations directly. As a result, it is essential to choose the right data migration strategy that is best suited for an organization’s workloads and migration before beginning the process. As a best practice, it is also recommended that Data Migration is considered as a separate project that oversees a seamless migration to support the holistic on-prem to cloud migration.

Refractor

While there are a number of cloud migration strategies to choose from, one of the most followed strategies is to modify an organization’s existing application architecture to modernize it to retrofit cloud capacities and features efficiently and effectively.

Plan Resource Allocation

Cloud allows for dynamic resource allocation to benefit fully from the cost savings it provides. However, as teams migrate to the cloud, they outline a strategy to determine how they will leverage this cloud capability in distributing resources for their applications. As an efficient strategy, organizations must include resource allocation as part of the larger goal that goes beyond the migration project for an improved bottom-line.

Choosing the Right Azure Sizing

In addition to selecting a migration approach and deciding the technical strategies, organizations must decide the optimum cloud computing model to adopt. Some of these include  – Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Infrastructure as a Service. Of the three, IaaS is known to provide the highest level of flexibility by allowing businesses to deploy applications in fully customizable virtual machines.

Additionally, evaluating existing and planned workloads allows organizations to identify resources such as CPU, memory, storage, and network to provision and optimize for their services. Azure provides different categories of virtual machines that are suitable for certain types of workloads. These include:

General Purpose

The general-purpose Azure virtual machine is designed for workloads with a balanced CPU to memory ratio. That means, they are not CPU-intensive, do not perform a considerable amount of disk reads and writes, and have minimal network traffic demands. They are best suited for development, testing, or small low-traffic server applications.

Compute Optimized

A compute-optimized Azure VM is designed for use cases that require a high CPU to memory ratio. Workloads that demand a lot of processing power can take advantage of the optimized compute power for these virtual machines. Examples of services like these include gaming and data analysis applications. It is also ideal for medium-traffic web servers and application servers.

Memory-Optimized

Azure’s memory-optimized VMs have a high memory to CPU ratio. They are designed for memory-intensive workloads. They are best suited for database servers and in-memory application cache setups. 

Storage Optimized

Storage-optimized VMs are suitable for workloads with a high frequency and amount of disk read and write operations. These types of workloads include large databases and high-velocity data storage applications like data warehouses.

GPU

Azure’s GPU VMs powered by Nvidia GPUs are designed for handling workloads that involve extensive graphics processing and CPU-intensive machine learning processes. 

High-Performance Compute

High-performance VMs are designed for specialized use cases that cannot be handled by GPU VMs. These workloads are highly compute-intensive and the VMs are optimized and configured to operate as nodes in a High-Performance Computing (HPC) cluster. Examples of such workloads include applications handling DNA modelling and developing neural networks in artificial intelligence.

Choosing-the-Right-Azure-Sizing How to Get Your Cloud Migration Right

Additional details of Azure Sizing can be found here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-machines/sizes

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/cloud-services/cloud-services-sizes-specs

 

5 Essential Tips for a Successful Migration 

1. Maintaining Parallel Computing

Organizations should run both legacy and target systems during the migration period to avoid an interruption in service or operations that could have cost implications.

2. Shift Left for Security

Integrating security early on in the software development lifecycle is necessary for a successful migration. Doing this safeguards the deployment pipelines from external actors with malicious intent during the migration process.

3. Embrace Container and Microservices

Containers provide a way to package applications together with their dependencies so that they are environment agnostic. Refactoring applications as microservices deployed containers allows organizations to release bits of an application in isolation, especially in a staggered or phased migration approach. Additionally, businesses can improve traceability and reliability when issues arise.

4. Enhance Operational Efficiency with DevOps

Embracing DevOps practices such as setting up a CI/CD pipeline enable businesses to monitor applications, log system activities, proactively raise alerts for current and potential issues, and provide faster incident resolution. A well-implemented CI/CD pipeline extensively uses automation to handle these processes seamlessly and aids an efficient cloud migration.

5. Consistent Learning & Feedback

Migrating to the cloud is not a one-off activity. It is an iterative learning process that involves identifying where improvements need to be made and applying the required changes. It is also necessary to provide an efficient feedback loop during the migration process that ensures that an organization’s employees and users are aware of the migration.

Essential-Tips-for-a-Successful-Migration How to Get Your Cloud Migration Right

Conclusion

Modernizing applications by leveraging the powers of the cloud can provide benefits such as availability, cost savings, reliability, and scalability for businesses. However, choosing a suitable approach and the right technical strategy to migrate their workloads to the cloud are two of the most crucial factors to get your cloud migration right. Organizations can leverage the tips, suggestions, and options identified in this article for a suitable and efficient migration to the cloud. While doing so, it must be noted that there is no one size fits all, and thereby every organization must follow the right approach that suits their purpose. 

 

To know more on how Optimus can help your organization with a seamless Cloud migration, contact us today

 

6 Cloud Migration Strategies: Choosing the Right One

Introduction 

These days, more and more companies are opting for digital transformation. As a result, there is a tectonic shift toward frameworks and tools that create efficiency and improve the bottom line. Businesses today realize cloud’s benefits that enable economies of scale by removing redundant tasks and reducing operating costs.

However, it is always easier said than done. In one of our earlier articles, we discussed how migrating from an on-prem environment to the cloud requires a systematic well-thought-out plan. This article outlines six common cloud migration strategies while providing insights on key considerations and factors to help choose the right one.

 

Common Cloud Migration Strategies

1. Rehosting

Typically referred to as the lift-and shift technique, a Rehosting strategy involves migrating applications partly or fully from an on-premises setup to a cloud-based infrastructure without the need to redesign the application architecture.

Strategic Purpose

Rehosting helps companies get up and running quickly without the need to make extensive changes. 

When to choose this strategy

Rehosting is often used where monolithic applications form a considerable part of the entire workload. Besides, a key factor in choosing this migration strategy is specifically when there is a need to scale the migration as fast as possible with minimum business disruptions. For organizations that are hesitant and are experimenting with cloud capabilities without getting into long-term plans, Rehosting is recommended as the justified approach. Additionally, for organizations that prefer to use a blended model of both on-prem and cloud, Rehosting turns out to be a sensible choice.

2. Replatforming

Often known as the lift-tinker-and-shift approach, a Replatforming migration strategy is a variation of the Rehosting approach that optimizes workloads and applications before moving them to the cloud. 

Strategic Purpose

Replatforming enables companies to upversion applications while retaining the core application architecture. Where upversioning involves rewriting application codes as necessary changes that optimize its usage in the cloud. A typical example of this is migrating database servers from on-prem to a cloud-based Database-as-a-Service offering. In this case, to support a DBaaS model, the database requires application codes to be rewritten, however, its underlying business logic and core architecture are retained by following a Replatforming strategy.

When to Choose this Strategy

Chosen by organizations who want to modernize some aspects of their applications to take advantage of cloud benefits like scalability and elasticity. However, organizations must be mindful of the considerable effort, time, and money that is incurred as part of the migration.

3. Refactoring

Refactoring is a better-fit strategic approach that involves making extensive modifications to the legacy application architecture and a large portion of its codebase for an optimum fit into the cloud environment.

Strategic Purpose

Refactoring aims to improve the existing application and implement features that could be difficult to achieve with the current way the application is structured. Rewriting the existing application code also helps organizations enable better resource utilization for workloads that would otherwise be expensive to rehost in the cloud. 

When to Choose this Strategy

Organizations that want to migrate legacy applications can take advantage of the higher cost benefits this migration approach provides. It is also suitable for businesses that want to add additional features to their applications that leverage niche cloud utilities that improve performance to meet business requirements. Adopting cloud services such as Serverless Computing, High-Performance Data Lakes, etc. are some of the commonly known factors to choosing this model.

4. Repurchasing

Known as the drop-end-shop approach, the Repurchasing migration strategy involves moving from on-prem to a cloud setup by scrapping existing licenses and starting up with newer ones to fit the cloud model. Commonly used for adopting a SaaS-based version of an application that provides the same features of the application, though work in a cloud-based subscription model. 

Strategic Purpose 

This approach to cloud migration helps organizations migrate from a highly customized legacy environment to the cloud as effortlessly as possible with minimal risk. This involves retiring the current application platform by ending existing licenses and then renewing newer ones that support the cloud.

When to Choose this Strategy

A Repurchase strategy can be chosen when dealing with proprietary platforms or products not designed to operate on cloud infrastructure. A typical example is the migration of an on-prem HR application to Workday on the cloud or using a SaaS-based database service such as Airtable.

5. Retiring

This approach involves retiring or turning off parts of an organizational IT portfolio that are no longer useful or essential to the business requirements.

Strategic Purpose

Retiring specific services that are either redundant or a part of the legacy stack improves cost savings. This involves identifying applications, tools, or services that are no longer scalable or negatively impact other aspects of an efficient framework, including security, resilience, and interoperability.  

When to Choose this Strategy

Organizations must choose this migration strategy after doing a thorough evaluation of all applications, IT services, and data management tools. A common rule of thumb is to evaluate retiring services with a valid business justification and not just for the goal to embrace modern technology. 

6. Retaining

The Retaining migration strategy involves only migrating a part of the legacy applications, tools, and platform components that support migration to the cloud. Essentially this implies the components that cannot be Refactored or Retired are Retained within the on-prem setup, while the rest is migrated to the cloud. 

Strategic Purpose

The retain approach to cloud migration allows organizations to maintain or keep parts of their IT portfolio on-premise while applying a part-migration method to run cloud applications.

When to Choose this Strategy

A Retaining migration model is often chosen alongside another migration strategy. Organizations with obligatory compliance or regulatory requirements that demand to store or run some aspects of their IT portfolio within certain regions or on-prem.

Cloud-migration-strategies 6 Cloud Migration Strategies: Choosing the Right One

Key Considerations to Choosing a Cloud Migration Strategy

Choosing a migration strategy requires careful consideration of critical factors that have the potential to affect core business objectives. As a rule of thumb, it is advised that organizations consider the following before choosing one of the cloud migration strategies:

  • Current on-premise workload: Although the cloud promises scalability and efficiency, it might not be suitable for running certain workloads without adequate refactoring. As a result, organizations must carry out a thorough analysis of what applications to migrate and in what order. This process helps to decide the most efficient way to migrate to the cloud.
  • Security: The transition process poses unique security challenges and risks that organizations need to be cautious of. Being aware of such challenges helps organizations perform due diligence in choosing the right cloud provider and a migration strategy.

In the absence of the right skill sets and expert guidance, migrating to the cloud is never easy. This is particularly complex for organizations that are trying to take advantage of the cost-efficiency, scalability, and elasticity of a cloud model without knowing the unknowns. 

 

At Optimus, we take pride in having supported several clients in their journey to digital transformation and migration to the cloud. Contact us today to know more. 

 

Cloud Migration: Common Challenges and Recommendations

SL-101820-36860-11-1030x687 Cloud Migration: Common Challenges and Recommendations

Introduction

It is estimated that today more than 90% of companies are already using some form of cloud services, while by 2023, the public cloud market is projected to reach $623.3 billion worldwide. These statistics highlight the consistent emerging pattern of businesses migrating their infrastructure from on-premises to the cloud. Industry pundits also claim that it’s no longer a question for companies to ask if they should move to the cloud but rather when.

There are several reasons to it. Adopting the cloud offers improved data access, scalability, and application security while achieving enhanced operational efficiency. A projection by Oracle also predicted that companies can save up to 50% on infrastructure expenses by deploying workloads to a cloud platform. 

However, transitioning to the cloud comes with its own set of challenges, with a disclaimer that not every cloud migration project goes as smoothly as intended. While there are a number of factors to failure, a lack of planning and insight before cloud migrations are one of the most prominent reasons for an outright failure. This not only means that the organization’s long-term goals to improve operational efficiency goes for a toss but also result in wasted effort, time, and money.

This article addresses the most common challenges to expect when moving from an on-premises setup to a cloud platform, and how to overcome them.

Common Challenges of an On-Prem to Cloud Migration

As an essential best practice, organizations are required to diligently research and assess the most suitable processes, methodologies and plan every step of the migration to ensure the right decisions are made, and costs are controlled. Here are some key considerations that should be followed as the rule of thumb. 

Choosing the Right Model and Service Provider

Choosing the right cloud model for a business and the right service provider can not only make or break the migration project, but also affect its future maintenance and sustainability. 

There are 3 cloud models that require an assessment to ascertain the best fit for the company:

  • Public Clouds are the most popular choice where a service provider owns and manages the entire platform stack of cloud resources – which are then shared to host a number of different clients. Some common examples of such managed service providers are MS Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud.
  • Private Clouds, on the contrary, don’t share computing resources as they are set up specifically for exclusive use by a single organization. Compared to public clouds, such a framework offers more control over customized needs and is generally used by organizations who have distinct or specific requirements, including security, platform flexibility, enhanced service levels, etc.
  • Hybrid Clouds are a blend of a public/private cloud used with an on-premises infrastructure. This allows an organization to interchange data and applications between both environments that suit its business process or technical requirements. For businesses that are already invested in on-site hardware, a Hybrid cloud model can ease a gradual transition to the cloud over a long-term period. Additionally, for businesses that are too reliant on Legacy applications, a Hybrid cloud model is often perceived as the model that provides the leeway to adopt new tools while continuing with traditional ones. 

Challenges-of-Cloud-Migration-e1617044236232 Cloud Migration: Common Challenges and RecommendationsImage source: Intel.com

Apart from the cloud model, when it comes to selecting a service provider, there are key factors to consider such as 

  • how the data is secured, 
  • Agreed service levels and the provision to customize them, 
  • a guarantee of protection against network disruptions, and 
  • the costs involved. 

It is important for an organization to be mindful of vendor lock-in terms, as once the transition starts with migrating data, it can be difficult and costly to switch providers.

What is recommended?

Plan exhaustively on analyzing the current and future architecture, security, and integration requirements. Be clear about the goals of migrating to the cloud and identify the vendors that will most likely help in achieving them. A best practice of choosing the preferred service provider often starts with evaluating the proposed Service Level Agreement (SLA) for maintenance commitments, access to support, and exit clauses that offer flexibility.

Engagement and Adoption from Stakeholders

When introducing changes within an organization, it is often met with resistance by multiple stakeholders, which can thwart efforts for a smooth switch. This can be explained by scenarios where – the finance department may oppose the transition because of cost, the IT team may feel their job security is threatened, or the end-users won’t understand the reason for the change and fear their services might get impacted. Though such resistances are usually short-term, such factors may often compromise an organization’s immediate goals unless stakeholders are onboard.  

What is recommended?

Dealing with stakeholder resistance requires a holistic change in mindset across all levels of the organization. While hands-on training and guidance may provide support for users in adopting and using cloud-based services, preemptively addressing any resistance is a start on the right foot. Additionally, as an advisory for various organizational units, it is suggested to build a compelling business case that highlights current challenges in the organization with clear explanations on how migrating to the cloud will resolve these issues. 

Security Compromise

Whether the underlying architecture relies upon on-premises or the cloud, protecting a company’s data remains a top priority for any organization. When migrating to the cloud, a large part of the organization’s data security is managed by the cloud service provider. As a result, it is vital to have a thorough assessment of the vendor’s security protocols and practices.

This also means that organizations remain in control of where the data is stored, how incoming/outgoing data is encrypted, what measures are in place to ensure software is updated with the latest fixes, as well as the regulatory compliance status of the provider. Certain enterprise cloud providers like MS Azure take a holistic approach to security and offer the highest industry security standards that are aligned with regulations like PCI and HIPAA. 

What is recommended?

Define in-house security policies and explore the available cloud platform’s security tools. As a result, it is critical to proactively consider: 

  • authorization & authentication, 
  • audit lifecycle, 
  • application and network firewalls, 
  • protection against DDoS attacks and other malicious cyberattacks. 

Besides, a secure cloud migration strategy should administer how security is applied to data in-transit and at-rest, how user identities are protected, and how policies get enforced post-migration across multiple environments. 

It is important to note that administering security across all layers and phases of implementation requires much more than using tools. This usually begins with:

  • an organization to foster a security mindset
  • adopting security as part of the workflow by embracing a DevSecOps model, 
  • as well as incorporate a robust policy and audit governance through Security-as-Code or Policy-as-Code methodologies. 

Avoid Service Disruptions

Legacy models that rely extensively on third-party tools which are through with sunset clauses, or in-house developed applications, require special provision for a smooth transition. More so, frameworks involving virtual machines that include hardware-level abstraction are practically more complex that syncs and maintains abstraction layers through pre and post-transition phases. Unplanned migrations for such setups may often lead to performance issues including increased latency, interoperability, unplanned outages, and intermittent service disruptions. 

What is recommended?

Replicating virtual machines to the cloud should be planned based on an organization’s workload tolerance, as well as its on-prem networking setup. It is advised to make use of agent-based or agentless tools available by service providers, such as Azure Migrate that provide a specialized platform for seamless migrations. 

As for legacy or sunset apps, organizations are advised to plan for Continuous Modernization that provisions regular auditing of such apps, while planning for a phased retirement in the longer term. For setups where an immediate Lift and Shift isn’t an option, the organization should recalibrate its migration strategy by considering Refactoring or Rearchitecting strategies, that reimplements the application architecture from scratch. 

Cost Implications

Accounting for near and long-term costs during cloud migration is often overlooked. There are several factors that require consideration to avoid expensive and disruptive surprises. As migration from a legacy to the cloud is gradual, in the immediate term, organizational units often need to continue using both on-premises as well as the cloud infrastructure. This implies additional costs towards duplication of resource consumption such as – data sync & integrity, high-availability, backup & recovery, and maintenance of current systems

What is recommended?

Over the longer term, using a cloud platform is more cost-effective. Though there is very little that can be done by an organization to avoid most of such expenses during migration, what is required is to include these within its financial projections. While doing so, expect there to be upfront costs related to the amount of data being transferred, the services being used, and added expenses that may arise from refactoring to ensure compatibility between existing solutions and the cloud architecture. 

Benchmarking Workforce Skills

A migration plan that doesn’t benchmark workforce skills is often considered flawed. Cloud migrations can get complicated with customized requirements, using new technologies, and assessing what systems and data will be moved. During this, a good chunk of the effort goes towards the analysis of existing infrastructure to establish what will work on the cloud and identify the future gaps with respect to in-house workforce skills. 

What is recommended?

Migrating to the cloud is a complex process that requires a unique set of soft and hard skills. Before transitioning, it is essential to understand what practical knowledge the team has with cloud platforms, and then take the necessary steps to upskill in relevant cloud technologies and security. An important consideration around this should also factor in the allocation of contingent funds towards setting up a consistent framework of skills upgrade for seamless adoption of emerging tools and practices.

Key Takeaways

Adopting a cloud framework today is more a necessity than a projected goal. While migrating to the cloud, an organization’s goal remains equally important to develop a migration strategy, that sets realistic expectations by undertaking thorough due diligence. Being aware of the challenges and how to address them, not only minimizes immediate risks, but also prevents the project from becoming a disaster in the longer run.

By the end of it all, the successful strategy determines how efficient the migration is, without a noticeable impact on productivity or operational efficiency.