The pitfalls of cloud migration: 5 things to avoid on your journey
If you're looking to migrate your business to the cloud or change providers, here are some common mistakes to avoid.Posted — Updated
Migrating to the cloud comes with plenty of benefits, from decreased costs to greater workplace flexibility to enhanced security. The process of finding the right cloud solutions provider and completing migration, however, comes with a few pitfalls.
If you're looking to migrate your business to the cloud or switch providers, here's what you need to avoid in order to make the process successful.
Finding the right managed cloud services provider isn't a process to take lightly. Whatever partner you choose will handle everything from properly securing your data to ensuring you have the necessary compliance requirements.
"Look into the background and scope of the provider to make sure that they offer the services you're looking for — whether that's the actual computing, support or consulting services that you're going to need both during the migration and planning phases, as well as when you go live," said Zack Wojenski, senior director of operations at RapidScale. "Not every cloud provider is cut from the same cloth. That's not necessarily a quality issue, but a lot of the times it has to do with the systems and the architecture they use. It's important that they're also able to train and provide guidance and oversight to some of your technical talents during and after migration."
"Our engineering teams work with clients very closely to make sure that the solutions that we're proposing are going to meet their needs," he finished. "Once those things are agreed upon, we then help them through the process, from beginning to the end."
According to Wojenski, some companies may assume the best strategy for migration is simply to pick up their current network and shift it over to the cloud. While that may work in some instances, it doesn't always translate.
In fact, older networks, sometimes referred to as "legacy" networks, aren't typically built to run in the cloud.
"The 'lift and shift' approach can be very challenging at times and create some risks. Anytime you can, take a phased approach, moving some apps and systems in a prioritized, systematic fashion," said Wojenski. "Whenever possible, start with your non-essential workloads and then follow them with your critical business systems. That can reduce a lot of risk."
While the cloud can be more secure than physical servers, it doesn't guarantee absolute protection — especially if a cloud location goes down for technical issues.
"A lot of folks make an assumption that by moving into the cloud, they suddenly are magically, globally protected," said Johnson Cauthen, director of solutions engineering at RapidScale. "The cloud can include geo-redundancy depending on which service you use, but for most services it's not built in and that's not something that's obvious to companies who are new to cloud. We typically advise our customers by asking 'What's your tolerance for risk?'"
This consultative approach, Cauthen said, is key to building long-lasting trust relationships with customers. By creating an in-depth plan before migrating to the cloud, companies are better equipped to handle the transition.
The process isn't over once you move into the cloud. Companies should ask potential providers what type of upkeep they offer, as well as how they plan to maintain security and compliance. Additionally, since the cloud is highly technical, a reliable support team is crucial.
"Typically we're recommending a solution to a customer that might include components like desktop, Microsoft 365, backup, disaster recovery or email security. In a case like with Microsoft 365, a lot of providers are pretty much just sending the support calls directly to Microsoft," said Cauthen. "But we're providing in-house support for every service that we offer. All of our support agents are also US-based which can be another key factor for compliance."
When it comes to the environment, there are multiple options for how the cloud operates. Some companies want private cloud, others prefer public, and many compromise for a hybrid structure. An experienced cloud solutions provider can detail the pros and cons of each model.
"When it comes to the environment, each has its own benefits, but also its own risks. A lot of that depends on the size of the company, the scope of what they're trying to do and their immediate and future needs," said Wojenski. "Companies should really look into the right provider and make sure that the provider they choose can deliver their services in a way that's going to be beneficial to their business and their needs, as well as ensuring that they have the people there to help guide you through the process each step of the way."
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