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4 Key Cloud Migration Challenges and How to Overcome Them

For our guest post, Eddie Segal presents a list of the challenges for a cloud migration and how to solve them

Written by Eddie Segal • Last Updated: • Cloud •

Cloud Migration Challenges

Cloud computing is often the affordable solutions organizations, development teams, and startups, need to launch a new product or scale up an existing one. Other organizations use cloud resources to improve business operations. However, not all organizations and teams know how to properly migrate existing workloads and infrastructure to the cloud. This article reviews four cloud migration challenges and offers possible solutions.

What Is Cloud Migration?

Cloud migration is the movement of digital assets to cloud infrastructures and resources. It is typically done to reduce IT costs, gain access to higher performance resources, and to increase availability and scalability.

You can perform three types of cloud migration:

  • On-premise to cloud—the migration of on-premises assets and workloads to cloud resources.
  • Cloud to cloud—the migration of assets already hosted in the cloud to different cloud resources, often to another vendor. 
  • Reverse cloud—the migration of assets hosted in the cloud to on-premise resources.

Each migration type comes with its own set of challenges and practices. This is why you need to plan this process, and choose the appropriate cloud migration strategy.

Benefits of Cloud Migration

There are numerous benefits you can gain from carefully migrating your assets to the cloud. Below are the most common benefits.

Scalability

Cloud resources offer dynamic scalability in a way that is impossible with on-premise resources. You can provision and deploy additional resources on short to no notice to meet spikes in traffic and workload demands. Clouds also enable you to scale down when your workload decreases. This helps ensure that you are only paying for the resources you are actually using and are not losing costs on underutilized capacity.

Cost-effective

When cloud resources are used, you can eliminate many of the costs associated with infrastructure purchasing, maintenance, and housing. While some of these costs are transferred to the cost of services, you can significantly decrease your technical debt going into the future. You can also free IT teams to prioritize higher-level responsibilities since cloud infrastructure is managed and maintained for you. 

Disaster recovery

Cloud resources are distributed and typically include data duplication and built-in backup solutions. You can use these features to create secondary copies of resources for failover in times of disaster. 

Additionally, since resources are remote and often highly available, you reduce or eliminate concerns over single points of failure. If a disaster occurs, you can quickly and relatively easily restore your systems. 

4 Cloud Migration Challenges and How to Overcome Them

To obtain the benefits above and to ensure that your migration is successful, you need to account for several challenges you might face. These challenges are common in migrations but you can overcome them with a little extra planning and care.

  1. Lack of a defined plan

Excitement for migrating to the cloud is great but can also create issues if migrations are rushed or performed without proper planning. If your IT teams are not prepared for migration or do not understand how to properly configure and secure resources in the cloud, you are going to waste money. 

To avoid this, make sure that you dedicate enough time to planning your migration according to your specific needs. Your plan should match your business goals and account for performance, compliance, and cost requirements. You should also ensure that your IT teams have the expertise needed to successfully migrate. If they don’t, you need to organize for teams to be trained or you need to outsource expertise. 

  1. Security and compliance

One of the biggest mistakes that is made during migration is failing to secure your data and resources. Misconfigurations can leave endpoints exposed allowing illegitimate users free access. Or, lack of encryption can enable attackers to intercept data during migration. 

Additionally, because cloud data is distributed across regions, your data may be subject to new compliance measures. If you are unaware of these measures, you may be breaking regulations without knowing it.

To manage this challenge, you need to ensure that you are implementing security measures appropriately. Familiarize yourself with what aspects of security you are responsible for and implement services and solutions as needed. This includes investigating how services meet compliance requirements and which regulations you are subject to after migration. 

Once security is configured, be sure to continuously monitor and periodically audit your configurations. This can help you identify issues early on and correct mistakes before damage is done.

  1. Cost management

Moving to cloud resources can help you save significant amounts of money but can also rapidly consume your budgets. If you do not have a firm grasp on how resources are deployed and consumed you may see your costs balloon. This is particularly true if you are not making sure to clean up unnecessary resources or scale efficiently. 

To avoid surprises, make sure to carefully evaluate your expected costs before migration. Include your total cost of operations before and after to ensure that costs are in line with your expectations. Then, after migration, make sure to monitor the performance and use of your resources. For example, if you find that you are underutilizing storage, you can scale down or move to a lower performance tier. 

  1. Cloud vendor lock-in

Until you are in the cloud, it can be difficult to understand how cloud vendor lock-in may affect you. This is particularly true for public cloud resources, which make a point of advertising a lack of contracts. 

However, once you migrate your data and workloads and begin using services you may find that the costs and work required to transfer assets out is more than you expected. For example, if you adopt proprietary services, such as cloud-specific databases or applications. 

While in some cases, lock-in is hard to avoid, you can minimize its effects. For example, if you take the time to containerize applications and workloads before migration. Containerization enables you to separate application functionality from host requirements. This enables you to deploy applications to almost any environment with ease, meaning you can easily move services if needed.

Some additional steps you can take include:

  • Making sure that components are loosely coupled and use industry standards such as JSON, HTTP, and OAuth 
  • Maximizing portability by avoiding proprietary formatting or data models
  • Limiting reliance on managed services 

Conclusion

Cloud computing can help many businesses gain access to affordable computing resources. When migrating to the cloud, you gain access to controls that enable scalability, cost optimization, and disaster recovery. However, cloud migration is a complex process that should be properly planned and monitored. 

If you don’t have a defined plan in place, you risk accumulating massive overhead. The shared responsibility model of the cloud can also confuse new users. You need to be aware that cloud vendors take care of some security and compliance aspects, but other aspects are left to you to manage. 

Once you know which aspects are your responsibility, you can plan how to handle these tasks. The more informed you are about the vendor of your choice and its cloud and migration offerings, the better you’ll be able to properly plan and manage the migration process. This level of preparation can also help you avoid vendor lock-in and privacy issues.

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Eddie Segal is an electronics engineer with a Master’s Degree from Be’er Sheva University, a big data and web analytics specialist, and also a technology writer. In my writing, I cover subjects ranging from cloud computing to agile development to cybersecurity and deep learning.

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