Top risks of cloud migration: 5 reasons migrations fail

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Original post written by Nicola Wright of Jefferson Frank

Functionality, scalability, cost-effectiveness: the cloud promises a lot of great things.

But taking advantage of everything the cloud offers isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. Sure, in the long-run there’s less to manage since all of the important stuff sits at the vendor’s end, but cloud services still need to be implemented, and existing infrastructure and data migrated.

The fact is, cloud migrations can go awry just like any other. Unfortunately, no one can see into the future—unless you happen to have Doctor Strange on your cloud implementation team—so some migration hiccups are simply unavoidable.

That said, with enough planning you should be able to put your business in a good position to deal with any potential setbacks on your migration journey.

It also helps to learn from the mistakes of others, so you can make sure you’re evading the same pitfalls. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons that cloud migrations fail, and find out how you can avoid them.

Lack of planning

Abraham Lincoln once said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

During a project as huge as cloud migration, there’s a fair chance you’ll have to amend or revamp some of your implementation plan at some point, but that’s a lot easier to do if you already have one.

When you’re trying to get from A to B, things usually go a lot smoother if you lay down the tracks first. Try to execute a cloud migration without an exhaustive plan of action and you’ll end up flying by the seat of your pants, and making things up as you go along is not conducive to executing a successful tech project.

One of the most common causes behind cloud migration failure is lack of planning. Migrations that are started without a clearly defined, well-researched, and coherent strategy are doomed to fail, so take a leaf out of Honest Abe’s book.

The first step in creating a robust and functional plan for your cloud migration is to examine your current infrastructure.

Look at how you work now, and think about what parts of your infrastructure you’ll take to the cloud. Be thorough—missing dependencies at this stage can cause havoc during migration. Think about whether any parts of your infrastructure will need to be integrated with other services.

Make a note of your current KPIs—page load time, CPU usage, memory used percentage, for example—and plot targets for improvement post-migration.

Create a reasonable timeline for migration to take place, then add in significant “buffer” time to account for any deviations or roadblocks. Consider how apps will be migrated and whether they’ll need to be rearchitected.

Too many budding cloud users go into a migration believing it’s as simple as dragging an app from their in-house servers and “dropping” it into the cloud. Elemi Atigolo, Founder and Director at Buildly, advises a thorough evaluation on an app-by-app basis to avoid over-subscribing to your new cloud philosophy.

“Some existing applications may need to be rebuilt in order to take advantage of cloud features,” says Atigolo, “however rearchitecting isn’t always necessary, or even advisable, to gain those advantages.

“Critically evaluating the options for the whole business, to ensure you identify which applications will require adapting or rebuilding, makes sense.”

And when you make these assessments is just as important as how meticulously according to Atigolo, who adds: “The planning and strategy stage is where this decision should take place and not during implementation.”

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