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Overcoming Common Cloud Migration Challenges

Set your organisation up for success by overcoming these 10 common cloud migration challenges.

Digital stormy clouds over tablet and city scene

In the digital era, many organisations start their transformation journeys with a cloud migration project. It’s seen as a nonintrusive but cost-saving step toward business modernisation that ideally doesn’t impact day-to-day operations. However, this mindset fails to account for the true complexity of migration projects.

Knowing what to look out for is the first step to avoiding any cloud migration challenges. Here we explore the most common challenges and how to mitigate their impact.

1. Planning

Many organisations fail to properly prepare for their cloud migration by underestimating the importance of the planning stage. This could either lead to completing the project but losing out on areas to add value or improve your systems. Potentially, you could end up halfway through a cloud migration only to find out a critical application isn’t supported by your new vendor.

How to protect yourself: Plan for every possible outcome. Work through every stage of the journey from a theoretical perspective before turning anything on. Set yourself goals, lay out clear expectations of your team and account for all application dependencies and possible risks. Establish clear service-level agreements (SLAs) to set expectations for your vendors and cloud services partners alike. Consider the impact to your workload pattern and plan accordingly.

2. Performance and Optimisation

A common cloud migration oversight is to dive right in without taking the time to complete capacity, network or performance tests. By ignoring latency issues, failing to ensure that proper resources are allocated before the migration starts, or setting up adequate monitoring and alert processes, organisations might find themselves being overextended and dealing with serious delays.

How to protect yourself: Implement cloud-based monitoring tools that will enable you to regularly review your cloud resources. Automated workflows that run autonomously will free up your engineers and reduce the risk of error. Complete thorough performance tests to identify issues so you can address them before the migration begins.

3. Security

Cloud migration heightens risk of cyber-attacks when sensitive data is at its most vulnerable. Compliance and regulatory requirements are also becoming increasingly strict as the real-world consequences of cybercrime continue to grow.

How to protect yourself: Build a comprehensive security plan that accounts for all potential threats. Implement a change management process so there’s a level of accountability every time something is updated, or new users are given access to sensitive information. Study any necessary compliance requirements relevant to your industry and set resources aside to make sure they are met. Test your systems for weak points and provide your workforce with regular training to keep them aware of the latest trends in cybersecurity threats.

4. Communication

Any change to your organisation’s infrastructure or processes will likely impact multiple teams. Poorly communicated change and training needs will impact the success of the cloud migration.

How to protect yourself: Establish clear lines of communication by identifying every stakeholder who will be impacted and task them with providing regular progress reports to their teams. Determine whether formal training for new systems is necessary and weave it into the project plan’s timeline. Appoint primary points of contact and make sure their information is readily available should end users need assistance.

5. Cost

Many organisations undertake cloud migrations as a cost-saving measure. However, choosing a cloud vendor based on price alone could result in poor service quality and increased maintenance needs.

How to protect yourself: Perform a total cost of ownership (TCO) exercise to map out every contingency. Compare the service offerings from each vendor you’re considering based on metrics such as service quality, security and network bandwidth. Devise a migration plan that both minimises data transfer costs and trims unnecessary expenses.

6. Disaster Recovery Contingency Planning

Without an effective disaster recovery plan which, in worst-case scenario, could lead to critical data loss. And time spent on disaster recovery could have a knock-on effect on KPIs. Downtime can derail a major migration project if not resolved quickly, leading to higher costs and reduced productivity.

How to protect yourself: Make the appropriate investment in your backup and disaster recovery solution. If your data is valuable to your business, you should be eager to protect it. A thorough disaster recovery solution must be comprehensive, taking all potential failure scenarios into account. Implement cloud-based backup tools and allocate resources to ensure they are routinely tested for efficiency and accuracy.

7. Vendor Management

Changing cloud vendors comes with financial burdens, potential work disruptions and contract negotiations. Organisations need to be careful to avoid vendor lock-in, especially if they make use of applications that may not integrate with all platforms. The last thing you want to do is commit to a vendor, go through with the migration and then find out a business-critical integration with one of your analytics tools is incompatible with your new environment.

How to protect yourself: Engage stakeholders from all affected departments in the provider selection process. This will give them the chance to ensure that any third-party applications they use will continue to operate without disruption. You should also establish clear communication channels with any provider you are considering working with to ensure feedback and service requests are responded to with urgency. It’s important to know as much as possible before making any decisions. The vendor you choose should be responsive, open to questions and willing to offer solutions to potential roadblocks.

8. Application Optimisation

Some applications perform better in certain environments. In more extreme cases, some applications are incompatible with or unavailable on certain platforms. If you’re about to enter a contract with a new cloud provider, make sure that doing so won’t break a business-critical integration. Whether it’s an analytics platform or library versioning tool, you will want to avoid a situation where you will need to build a workaround or find a new application to perform the same function. Otherwise, you will be required to spend time, money and resources on what could have been a completely avoidable situation.

How to protect yourself: Perform an audit of all your business-critical applications to ensure your new cloud environment will be able to meet the necessary requirements. If any applications need to be replaced, connect with stakeholders to find out if they can adapt new tools in a reasonable time frame.

9. Data Management

Managing access to data at the user level and taking care to meet data integrity requirements can be a complicated process. Oversight might create weak links in your security and failure to adhere to any data integrity legal requirements may limit your ability to do business in certain geographic areas and lead to large fines.

How to protect yourself: Conduct a thorough assessment of your organisation’s data integrity requirements. Identify any data that cannot be stored or processed outside of certain geographic areas and ensure your vendor choice is not affected by their ability to provide solutions that meet your needs.

10. Testing

Organisations often don’t perform enough tests.

How to protect yourself: Consider all potential failure scenarios; one test won’t cut it. Build a nonproduction environment to thoroughly test your migration process. This will give you the opportunity to ensure it works as expected or solve for any errors that may arise. Regularly review and optimise your testing procedures to ensure they are effective.