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How to Avoid the Leading Cloud Migration Mistakes

Moving operations into the cloud doesn't have to be a floating nightmare. Avoiding five common migration mistakes will help ensure a smooth and fast transition.

Moving from on-site servers to the cloud is a complex process that demands careful planning and a thorough understanding of both cloud operations and vendor requirements. It also helps to avoid falling victim to one or more of the common errors that can make a cloud transition more challenging than it has to be. Here are the five top traps you need to watch out for.

Failing to Define Specific Goals

Many new cloud adopters move forward with muddled and confused objectives, driving their transition with no clear barometers of success, said Jeremy Roberts, a consulting analyst with Info-Tech Research Group. "The cloud is not good for its own sake; it should exist in the service of a business goal," he explained. "Unfortunately, in their zeal to get out of the data center, this critical detail is sometimes overlooked."

The cloud should never be viewed as a panacea for current data center woes. "Bad cloud deployment can be more expensive than [operating] a premises-based solution and can introduce performance and management headaches that aren't justified by any benefits," Roberts said.

The cloud is like any other tool; the trick is to apply it correctly, Roberts noted. The cloud also encompasses areas beyond IT. "For many organizations, it represents a fundamentally new way of thinking about operations," he said. The enterprise will have to adapt to a self-service, measured, elastic way of doing things to leverage the cloud fully. "If that's not going to happen, the cloud might be more trouble than it’s worth," Roberts warned.

Overestimating the Need for a Cloud Migration

Many organizations rush into the cloud with a "build it and they will come" mentality, said Prashant Kelker, a partner, digital strategy and solutions, with technology research and advisory firm ISG. Yet such an approach often leads to frustration and long-term disappointment. "We're seeing multiple enterprise-wide cloud migrations stalled at 18% to 25% completion because that's when the easy 'lift-and-shift' is done," he explained.

Kelker noted migration plans can be hampered by legacy monolithic applications that need to be broken down before their operations can be transferred to the cloud. "Although this refactoring makes sense, it's very difficult to justify the spend of doing so," he stated. "You don't want to spend millions of dollars to get the same functionality, just refactored for the cloud."

The only logical reason for refactoring projects for the cloud is for supporting business initiatives, which generally have their own timing, Kelker said. "This turns cloud migration into a marathon, not a sprint."

Trying to Clone Existing Data Center Workloads

Attempting to drive workload migrations into the public cloud as-is, essentially replicating a data center-like footprint, is a shortsighted approach, said Ron Jacob, a managing director with business advisory firm Ernst & Young, and financial services cloud solutions leader at EY Americas. "Keep in mind that the move to the cloud needs to be powered by capability and new ways of working," he said.

Organizations with the necessary forward-looking attitude will need to think differently on how they assess workloads, both for fit and finding the right path to migration. "Firms that have been able to successfully stand-up factory-like approaches that enable re-factoring, re-placing, or re-hosting strategies, will see greater return on their investments," Jacob said.

Viewing Cloud Migration as a Final Goal

Approaching cloud migration as a "big bang event" that will inevitably lead to instant change does little to help enterprises differentiate themselves from their competitors, said Karthik Narain, first lead with business consulting firm Accenture's cloud unit.

Narain noted that recent Accenture research found that nearly two-thirds of companies aren’t achieving the benefits they expected from a cloud migration. The reason? "For many, it's failing to define a cloud strategy that's geared to support the business strategy and capitalize on the cloud as a launchpad for innovation," he stated.

A cloud-first strategy, designed from the outset to leverage the cloud’s potential, is an approach that will reduce cost. "It will also unleash substantially greater innovation, resilience, and agility. When considering cloud migration, enterprises should first understand where they want to go before setting out on the journey," Narain advised.

Failing to Adequately Plan for Post-Deployment Operations

Failing to anticipate and properly plan for post-deployment operations is a common cloud migration oversight with potentially high financial and operation consequences. "It goes hand-in-hand with continuously innovating and thinking of a cloud migration as a journey, not a project," observed Craig Hays, managing director, advisory, at business and IT consulting firm KPMG. "It can be difficult to keep up the momentum and take advantage of new features when a plan is not in place," he concluded.

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