Jan 18, 2015

What are the biggest challenges companies face with cloud migration?

After the decision has been made to move data and applications to the cloud, what are the most significant hurdles that are commonly faced? Of course, every situation is different, but I can’t help but think that the same issues must arise again and again.
I've spoken to a number of folks about this question: What's the biggest thing holding back the cloud industry? Everyone has their own take on it. Some say security, others say overall maturity of the platform. Some say certain workloads will never move to the cloud. But I think there is one thing that keeps coming up that I believe remains the biggest challenge for the cloud industry: People and their processes.

Adopting a successful cloud computing strategy is not just a technical challenge, in fact I've heard some people say that is the easy part. What is hard is getting the full value out of it. People have processes in place for doing their jobs and some people believe the cloud will disrupt that. There is a fear about what the cloud will do to my job and what it means for my business. That can create roadblocks for adoption. Getting over that hurdle, I believe is one of the biggest issues users have to get through when using cloud services.

How is that done? First of all it helps to have a champion of a project, and it helps if it's an executive, I believe. Secondly, people need to be willing to try new things. And third, people need to be given the time and resources to embrace these technology changes. If you can do all that, then the technical aspects of deploying a cloud could seem easy.
I think companies have to strike a balance between needed features, security, capabilities and of course cost. It helps if the company has prepared a careful plan ahead of time that takes everything into consideration well before any decision is made.
Planning your migration is going to be your biggest challenge. You may need to move your data in a series of steps to acclimate your staff to its way of life. This is what one healthcare provider did when faced with a huge increase in their data volumes. They wanted an environment that was safe and could spread their risk around. They took a multi-stage process towards cloud computing, by first keeping their data inside their data center but migrating their apps to the cloud, which helped them increase their computing power by 70% with the same IT budget.

The next step was to move their data over to the cloud, once they got more experience with handling their cloud apps and their security implications. It was a lot easier to leave their backend servers in their own data center cabinets while they migrated the front end.

What made this two-step process successful was that they planned the entire process out in advance. They took the time to analyze what they had and found a solution allowed them to scale and adjust their plans along the way.
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