For most companies, migrating to the cloud is no longer a question of if but when. By moving applications to the cloud, you can improve security, data access, scalability, and IT flexibility, just for starters. Moving to the cloud can also save you money.
However, be forewarned: Not all cloud deployments go smoothly. Migrations often take longer than expected, or they fail completely, resulting in wasted time and expense. It’s not unusual to discover, after moving an app into the cloud, that it doesn’t work as well there as it did on-premises.
The result might just be another migration—back to the data center.
A recent study, sponsored by security provider Fortinet and conducted by supply chain specialists IHS Markit, found that many companies, 74% of those surveyed, have moved a cloud-based app back on-premises after failing to achieve the anticipated benefits.
This isn’t a new problem. A Google search of cloud migration failures will find examples going back several years. We’ve been discussing the problem for some time, and the problem is not a failure of technology, but a failure of leadership.
Here are five leading causes of cloud migration failures, and what you can do to succeed.
Cloud migration failure #1: Lack of a good partner
The first step is to realize you can’t do this alone, especially in the beginning. You will need a partner, whether it is a global professional services company like Accenture or a local consultancy. And that is a decision that should be made with careful deliberation and some outside input. Ideally, you have a network of peers in your industry and geography who can help you pick the right consultant for the job.
“Choose your partner carefully. Get references. You need a very reference-able partner, one who can step you through the process who has not only tech capabilities but change management capabilities as well,” said Joshua Greenbaum, president of Enterprise Application Consulting.
A good cloud migration specialist can help you identify the best applications to move, determine how to integrate legacy systems and cloud services, and plan and execute the migration. A good partner can also help you work out an effective hybrid or multi-cloud strategy.
Cloud migration failure #2: Failure to adapt to the cloud
One of the most common mistakes companies make is letting their apps run in the cloud the same way they did on premises. That, says Tim Crawford, president of Avoa, a CIO consultancy, is a huge and common mistake.
“On-prem apps are used to consuming resources at peak,” Crawford said. “The cloud is designed to use resources when you need it and give them back when you don’t. But the traditional app is not built with the level of autonomy and orchestration to take advantage of cloud.”
Too many customers forget that every single bit they run on a public cloud is metered and they will have to pay for it. They let unmodified apps run at full tilt, eating up compute cycles, and the bill comes a month later. Simply lifting and shifting an app to the cloud is a recipe for sticker shock, at the very least. At worst, you’re facing a return to on-premises.
Cloud migration failure #3: Not having the right skills in-house
If you think you can manage your public cloud or even hybrid cloud with the old skills and approaches –ITIL framework, waterfall processes, monolithic applications, operational silos, etc. – you are in for a rude surprise.
You need skills to manage dynamic infrastructure, containers, automation, microservices, and so on. Problem is, so does everyone else! New technology will help, but attracting, training, and retaining skilled talent is still critical.
“A cloud operating model moves IT away from traditional, static, monolithic software management using standalone on-premises legacy tools and suites, to an environment of highly distributed, dynamic, atomized, and abstracted services managed with multiple often cloud-based point solutions,” said Andi Mann, chief technology advocate at analytics firm Splunk. “IT needs new skills for managing the cloud platforms themselves and also the containers, microservices, APIs, SaaS systems, and so on.”