More organizations than ever before are deciding to move assets to cloud-based data platforms, seeing the advantages and opportunities that come from transitioning from legacy, on-premises technology to an on-demand environment. However, the process of migrating some or all assets to the cloud can be fraught with challenges.
Cloud migration is the process of moving digital assets, services, and infrastructure to the cloud or moving from one cloud service to another. It comes in all shapes and sizes. Some organizations are interested in partially moving to the cloud while keeping some assets on-premises, which is known as a hybrid cloud operation, while others aim to move an entire network to a public or private cloud data platform. Cloud-based platforms can also further migrate to a new cloud data platform or have certain assets in one cloud data platform and other assets in another, known as a multi-cloud solution.
A successful migration to the cloud can open up new opportunities and innovations for an organization, allowing it to streamline operations, improve data security, and enable more business agility. As the costs of running on-premises hardware and software continue to increase, a cloud-based solution enables startups to quickly scale projects to meet demand and provides small to medium-sized businesses with opportunities to save on repair, maintenance, and talent costs associated with database services. Like all digital transformations, proper planning and clear goals are needed to ensure a smooth transition, along with knowledge of the risks involved. Taking account of budget and time overruns is also a valuable exercise for businesses, as each cloud project comes with unique quirks and challenges that may force changes to the original plan.
There are many benefits that businesses can achieve through migrating to the cloud, including:
- Cost – An on-premises solution requires routine hardware and software maintenance and repair, which also requires skilled workers to ensure that everything is working correctly. Moving to a cloud solution can reduce the overheads.
- Agility – Cloud data platforms enable businesses to provide access to services 24/7, with the capability to rapidly transition an application or service to meet new customer demands. Instead of waiting months for hardware or software upgrades, businesses can access first or third-party plugins from a cloud provider to rapidly transform or improve.
- Security – Cloud data platforms have some of the leading edge security packages, alongside modern IT infrastructure that is regularly updated to protect customers. The ecosystem of cloud security outside of the data platforms, in the form of policies, governance, and compliance, is constantly being improved to make the cloud a safer choice each year.
- Scalability – Businesses aren’t static, and data needs can change on a regular basis. Having access to scalable architecture enables startups to rapidly grow to meet demand, and the pay-as-you-go model ensures that businesses are only paying for what they use.
- New technologies – Automation, analytics, AI, and ML services are being built specifically for cloud-based platforms, which can be used to optimize operation costs (by 30% to 50%, according to Accenture) and improve customer experience. Legacy architecture may miss out on these new technologies or may not be able to implement them properly.
- End-of-life cycles – The dreaded end-of-life cycles for hardware and software are no more on the cloud, as businesses no longer have to sign long-term contracts or licensing agreements to access leading-edge technology.
As we said previously, while there are many advantages to migrating to the cloud, there are also challenges that businesses will face.
- Lack of strategy – Planning out each stage of the cloud migration and having key goals and ambitions for the migration is key to a successful transformation. Without it, businesses can end up with lackluster performance improvements, which can spiral into additional development time to meet new goals.
- Cloud sprawl – A well-planned transition should, most of the time, be cost-effective for the business. However, it is easy for an operation, when a clear strategy is not in place, to go overboard on cloud instances, services, and providers, which leads to a lack of accountability and increased costs post-migration.
- Budgeting – Before migrating, businesses should have an estimate of how much each stage of the migration will cost, taking into consideration unforeseen challenges that may turn up during each stage. Proper strategy and budget control should prevent overspend, or at least limit it.
- Lack of skilled workers – Staff training or retention is required during the transition from on-premises hardware and software to cloud. New technologies, such as DevOps, AI, and ML, require a whole new set of skills.
- Security – Even though security was cited as a plus, it can also be an issue if security measures are not taken by the business. Securing endpoints, automating security processes, limiting access to areas, and enabling continuous monitoring of internal systems can reduce the risks during and post-migration.
Cloud expenditures already covered 70% of the budget for IT services in 2020, and it is expected that 80% of organizations will use some form of cloud-based data system in 2025. Most of the business world has either moved or is in the process of moving its network to the cloud, so it is critical that the tools for migration are as comprehensive as possible and that businesses have a clear strategy when migrating from on-premises to cloud, or from one cloud service to the next.
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