Cloud Migration: Four Common Pitfalls and Surprising Gotchas

February 27, 2019 | by Krittika Banerjee | Posted In Cloud

Cloud computing is now emerging as the default choice for organizations to deploy and manage their applications. Although most experts believe there are few drawbacks to moving applications to the cloud, there can be plenty of potential problems along the way. Success is a lot more likely if you are cognizant of the hidden pitfalls associated with the move. In this blog post, we delineate the top four cloud migration mistakes that organizations make and highlight our recommendations to ensure a smooth cloud migration:

#1: Migrating everything at once

Cloud migration can be a complex process, with a significant impact on various teams, departments and their day-to-day processes. Attempting to migrate all at once can temporarily cripple your operations and is not advisable. Plus, not every application is going to cost less simply by running it in the cloud. The ability to identify and pick the right application profiles for the cloud is therefore of crucial importance when it comes to cloud migration.

When determining which workloads should be prioritized for migration, elasticity can be a key factor to consider. This implies that applications that involve high variable usage (sometimes referred to as “bursty” apps) are a better fit for cloud environments. Similarly, applications that deal with non-restrictive data may be more appropriate candidates for deployment in the public cloud. In contrast, applications that are laden with technical debt and require more maintenance and repair are not suitable for cloud platforms. That is because maintenance and repair of cloud apps requires you to define “shared responsibilities” with your cloud vendor. Maintenance is far simpler, when your server is located in your office.

#2: Not prioritizing security

The cloud is not just a new technology but also an entirely new operating model, a unique place where distributed data calls for a new approach to security. The challenge lies not in the security of the cloud itself, but in using the cloud securely. “Through 2022, at least 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault,” according to a leading research and advisory company. While public cloud vendors ensure rigorous controls and security around their data center environment, organizations still need to put in place appropriate levels of security around their own practices.

From a policy perspective, it is vital that your security teams are involved in carrying out a due diligence process that covers — who is in charge of what areas, what the responsibilities of the cloud vendor are, and what security controls need to be put in place internally to meet security and compliance requirements. Core to this process is understanding the key areas of data integrity, infrastructure security, data encryption, where data is held, how backup data is restored, and guarantees included in case of an outage or lapse in service. A cloud architecture designed with a security-first mindset is critical for security of cloud services. Robust processes focused on data safety and recoverability (in the event of a disaster) are also vital. Additionally, routine monitoring and updating is also key. Best practices dictate consistent review of the cloud architecture and ensuring compliance with cybersecurity protocols, so that potential problems can be addressed before they occur and catastrophic business impact avoided.

#3: Overlooking hidden costs

If you do not have proper cost governance in place, hidden charges can make your cloud bill considerably more expensive than you budgeted for. With cloud computing, it is vital to continuously monitor what resources are being used, who is using it, and how much it is adding to your costs. With dynamic application development and system configurations being in a constant state of change, what often ends up happening is that server instances are spun up for a particular requirement, and then left idle for weeks and even months together. Such an oversight is inevitable when cloud administrators do not carry out regular system audits or do not communicate with each other. However, with usage-based metering on leased VM resources, the charges creep up stealthily with every moment the resource runs and you end up paying for an over-inflated bill.

There are several other issues as well that can catch you by surprise if you are not careful. For instance, when organizations use higher-level features like serverless computing, which leverage resources in a variable way, users are often not clear about its cost implications. Another area of spending that is often undervalued is the cost of refactoring systems. Refactoring applications can be expensive, but is often necessary to make them cloud-native with APIs and ensure better fit for cloud environments.

#4: Not getting your people on board

Your organization might have embarked upon some ambitious cloud transformation program, but it might not yield results unless your people are on board. When cloud computing becomes an integral part of the development lifecycle, it requires transformation in day-to-day processes as well as activities. Most teams, from development to operations and security, will feel the ripple effects. With the abstraction of most of the underlying infrastructure layers, your DevOps teams would need to take complete ownership of the end-to-end process of building and running applications. This inevitably means an enormous change for organizations.

In such a scenario, it becomes important to come up with ways that can motivate and enable teams to be self-managing and self-organizing, and also promote greater ownership and accountability. Organizations need to invest in creating a training ecosystem to facilitate skill development and empower teams to maximize the value of cloud. Several leading cloud vendors, such as AWS offer training courses for their products. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect program, for instance, deep dives into AWS and its services, covers architectural best practices, and estimates AWS costs.

Whether you are just dipping your toes in the water or looking to get more out of the cloud, the above recommendations should help your organization plan for a safer and more persistent cloud strategy. We recommend partnering with the right experts, who can help you build a cloud migration plan that is based on a hype-free assessment of how it can and should address your unique business needs. Always be prepared to unlearn some traditionally held notions and learn new ones to make it work.

Contact us to learn how our experts can help you and your organization take the leap into the cloud.