5 keys to overcoming cloud migration challenges

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Cloud migration challenges continue to bedevil enterprises, despite the fact that the cloud itself has been around for nearly 20 years.

Many enterprises have yet to realize the full promise of an abstract, distributed, federated data environment because migrations are still often so difficult.

Nobody embarks upon a cloud migration expecting to fail, of course. The basic problem is that few people understand the nuances of such a complex project, particularly as it relates to ongoing processes and operations. Unexpected challenges are the bane of any major undertaking, and cloud migrations are chock full of unexpected challenges.

Cloud migration and performance

Laurence Guihard-Joly, the Global Cloud Migration Factory’s general manager for cloud migration, points out that cloud migrations require careful strategic planning, with a “multipronged approach” that takes time to get right.

Take application performance as a key example. Misplacing applications in the wrong cloud environment or putting them in the cloud when they belong on-premises results in over- or under-provisioned resources, which can diminish app performance or drive up costs. In addition, a poor understanding of workload dependencies can introduce performance issues, as well as security risks.

The so-called “lift and shift” approach, in which an application is moved as-is from a traditional environment to the cloud without any redesigning, might work for simple applications, as TechTarget suggests. However, more complex, resource-intensive applications, such as those that use big data or image rendering, might need an overhaul before being migrated.

Failing to align workload requirements with the proper cloud architecture can wreak havoc on the entire cloud strategy. In most cases, it leads to reverting back to traditional infrastructure, which costs time and money and can damage performance, reliability, manageability and overall trust in the cloud by the knowledge workforce.

5 keys to success

Before you embark on the cloud migration process, it helps to have a clear understanding of what’s involved. Here are five key elements identified by IBM for a successful cloud migration:

  1. Develop a strategy. This should be done early and in a way that prioritizes business objectives over technology. This should also include an analytics regime that gathers information in a consistent format.
  2. Identify the right applications. Not all apps are cloud friendly. Some do better on private or hybrid clouds rather than on public. Some may need only minor tweaking, while others might need in-depth code changes. A full analysis of architecture, complexity and implementation is easier to do before the migration rather than after.
  3. Develop the right skills and resources. Choosing a service provider that does not have the proper expertise and technology is a recipe for disaster. A provider must be able to open established systems to new channels using microservices and new APIs that foster platform-based development.
  4. Maintain data integrity and operational continuity. Managing risk is critical, and sensitive data can be exposed during a migration. Post-migration validation of business processes is crucial to ensure that automated controls are producing the same outcomes without disrupting normal operations.
  5. Adopt an end-to-end approach. Service providers should have a robust and proven methodology to address every aspect of the migration process. This should include the framework to manage complex transactions on a consistent basis and on a global scale. Make sure to spell all of this out in the service-level agreement with agreed-upon milestones for progress and results.

No matter how prepared you are, there will inevitably be surprises during a migration. This is why two of your most important assets will be innovation and creative problem solving. At the same time, it helps to have a technology partner with vast experience regarding today’s cloud migration challenges. Chances are the unforeseen problem you face has already been successfully managed by someone else.

Even the best-prepared enterprises occasionally come up against their own unique cloud migration challenges. Check out our recent white paper to learn how to find a path to the cloud that minimizes disruption.

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