IT managers fight fear with facts on the journey to cloud

What to do when internal skepticism stands in the way of your cloud migration

By | 3 minute read | September 3, 2019

A recent survey conducted by IBM Market Development & Insights (MD&I) shows that businesses are moving to cloud faster than ever, deploying an estimated 57 percent of workloads and applications into a cloud environment over the next two years, up from 33 percent today. Cloud migration is a vital step for business growth, which begs the question: Why do some businesses hesitate to make the leap?

It seems internal skepticism is a major stumbling point when it comes to cloud migration. 66 percent of IT decision-makers face significant skepticism within their organizations, focused in three key areas: security risks, legacy systems and the complexity of hybrid and multicloud environments.

Security in the cloud

Security is the biggest challenge companies face in moving more complex workloads to the cloud. “Our concerns are with data privacy and security,” said one CIO. “Our higher-ups are deeply concerned that the cloud represents one step closer to the ‘bad’ people, and that makes it one level removed to get at our data.”

One of the first crossroads on the journey to cloud is deciding between public and private cloud. “Public cloud makes the most sense when there is less risk or a less complex environment,” said IBM Cloud Migration Services Offering Manager Murugesan Sethu. “There are some security standards available, but you may need to accommodate or adjust your business’ security standards to align with them.”

For riskier or more complex environments such as those that handle financial transactions, “If you’re not comfortable with the public cloud because the standard security is not aligned to your company’s policies, you can build it in your own facility as a private cloud,” said Sethu.“The private cloud is designed for you, so you can dictate the things you want from the beginning.”

Still not sure about public vs. private cloud? “First, ask yourself: What are the security standards you want? Then check the public cloud,” said Sethu. “If any security standards are not addressed and cannot be adjusted, then you want to go to private cloud. With private cloud, you can do anything.”

Legacy systems and the cloud

The added complexity of legacy systems is another factor preventing businesses from moving more complex workloads to cloud. “Around 95% of enterprises have legacy applications that prevent them from completely going to cloud,” said Sethu. “Because of architectural limitations, there will always be a small percentage that they can’t move.”

Fortunately, this is a common predicament. According to Sethu, most businesses are looking for a combination of private or public cloud and some legacy applications — which means a hybrid multicloud architecture.

Complexity and support for the cloud

The complexity of hybrid multicloud environments has prevented some businesses from moving their more complex workloads to cloud. “Moving systems and workloads is less of a problem,” said one IT director, “Hybrid architecture and GDPR regulations are more difficult.”

More specifically, it’s managing a hybrid multicloud infrastructure that gives many businesses pause about moving complex workloads to cloud. For all its benefits, moving to a hybrid multicloud environment calls for properly skilled resources and a facility to manage it. For many businesses, this means working with a cloud management support provider.

Still, finding the right provider can prove challenging: “The primary issue we have with cloud platforms is support and stability,” said an IT director. “With the exception of a few vendors, most have issues avoiding downtime and bugs in their software. We are completely reliant on the vendor to fix the problem, which can take days or weeks.”

IT decision-makers say they prioritize business continuity and minimal downtime when looking for service providers. This extends from skills required to establish best practices for disaster recovery and cyber resiliency to preparing against cyber-attacks. Two-thirds of the survey respondents also said they would benefit most from having data protection and recovery capabilities in order to move their next set of workloads to cloud.

Overall, IT decision-makers say they feel a strong sense of confidence about moving to cloud, regardless of workload and application complexity. When they face skepticism from the highest levels of their organizations, informed assurances around data protection, recovery and security are a powerful tool. “At the end of the day,” said Sethu, “IT leaders have a requirement to reduce costs while managing risk. The only way to do that is by adapting to cloud and new technologies.”