A survey in North America found that about 95% of businesses have had critical applications shifted to the cloud in 2016 alone.
What is it that’s pushing organizations to increasingly shift their workloads and data to the cloud? From flexibility and scalability to compliance and cost-effectiveness, the reasons for shifting to the cloud are quite well-known. But, at the same time, the challenges associated with moving to the cloud can hardly be ignored. Carrying out cloud migration without sufficient knowledge and preparation can keep organizations from reaping the benefits of moving to the cloud. In fact, going all-in with cloud adoption without doing any homework can result in application failure and additional costs for planning and reworking the entire migration.
Before planning a move to the cloud, it is important to fully understand the requirements and weigh in the benefits and challenges, and make a decision accordingly. Here are some key points to consider when moving to the cloud:
The Benefit: With cloud comes virtually unlimited scalability
The key driving factor for cloud adoption is perhaps scalability and flexibility that comes with it. With cloud, organizations can enjoy IT resources on demand. Instead of buying new servers for occasional spikes in usage, they can easily scale up or down as required and pay only for the resources actually being utilized. So, if you have an application that experiences high-traffic at certain times and has low usage at others, you should consider moving to the cloud to expand resources dynamically as needed without having to worry about buying, configuring and installing anything.
The Challenge: Vigilance is the key to avoid inefficient resource utilization
Although cloud allows you to auto-scale, it is important to remain vigilant about app performance and bugs in the application that can result in downtime. Organizations must keep a track of usage spikes and try to figure out if resources are being utilized inefficiently to contain usage costs and avoid potential downtime. Most cloud vendors will provide you with tools to monitor your applications’ cloud resource usage.
The Benefit: Automated hardware, software updates and maintenance
Moving to the cloud means that you no longer have to invest in the latest hardware upgrades. Neither should you have to worry about keeping up with the frequent software updates. Your cloud vendor will be responsible for hardware and software maintenance and installing security patches while your applications will automatically benefit.
The Challenge: Adoption Resistance and Lack of Skills
Humans, by nature, tend to resist a change. Your employees may not be comfortable with shifting to the cloud and may fear the unknown. This fear could also stem from insufficient knowledge and lack of cloud migration skills. To make the cloud migration journey a successful one, organizations must ensure that their entire team is on board. Specialized workshops and training can play an important role in equipping employees with the necessary skills and helping them overcome their apprehensions regarding cloud adoption.
The Benefit: Data Analytics and Disaster Recovery
A 2018 IDG Cloud Computing Study found that 49% of all organizations plan to move disaster recovery to the cloud or are considering cloud adoption to ensure high availability. BI applications can also benefit from moving to the cloud. As businesses have unlimited customer data at their disposal, they need to leverage the unlimited storage and processing power of public clouds to carry out data analytics and gain business insights. Businesses are now considering cloud as a growth tool that ensures high revenue and a wider customer base.
The Challenge: Ensuring Data Security and Compliance
Although generally, cloud offers better security resources and compliance, it is up to the organizations to choose a cloud vendor that meets their unique security and compliance requirements. It is the responsibility of an organization to implement proper access controls on its data and to ensure that the workloads are secure. Misconfigured infrastructure components can put your data at risk. Despite the risks, organizations can have 14 or more misconfigured IaaS instances running at a given time.
The Benefit: Hybrid and Multi-cloud Environments
Shifting entire workloads and data to the cloud in a single sweep may not be a feasible reality for most of the organizations. The good news is that organizations can instead function in a hybrid environment where some resources stay on-premises while others move to the cloud. Hybrid cloud is a great option for making the transition as disruption-free as possible. Moreover, organizations can keep highly sensitive data like medical records and social security numbers on-premises to ensure security and compliance. On the other hand, multi-cloud environments are also common among organizations that hire multiple cloud vendors to enjoy best-of-breed services for their applications while avoiding potential vendor lock-ins.
The Challenge: Managing Multiple Cloud Deployments
Having multiple private and public cloud deployments means additional work and resource allocation for managing multiple cloud deployments. Companies must separately ensure that each cloud provider meets the regulatory requirements and follows the best security practices. Having multiple cloud providers can result in a complex environment and may decrease visibility. In the absence of adequate management, monitoring across multiple clouds can be difficult and may result in an increase in costs and compromised business agility.
Before planning and executing a migration plan, it is important for the organizations to have a deep understanding of the benefits of moving to the cloud as well as the associated challenges. Not all applications can be simply shifted to the cloud as-is. Some may need refactoring while others may require to be rewritten all over again. It’s wise to migrate the easiest workloads first and progressively keep shifting the more difficult ones over time. Throughout your migration journey, you will need a trusted partner for consultation and guidance. Although moving to the cloud may appear difficult and expensive at first, but regardless of the difficulties, cloud adoption will continue to grow in the coming years. Partnering with a reliable cloud vendor can considerably reduce the migration burden on your IT team and can help you leverage the cloud to its maximum potential.