Cloud computing is a central focus for companies in a post-pandemic world, mid-digital-transformation world. It’s allowing organizations to expand beyond what’s possible with on-premises systems, storing and processing massive data both centrally and at the edge. But as these systems become more complex, more challenges stand in the way of businesses and full cloud deployment. Here are the most pressing enterprise cloud challenges in 2023.
Migration and integration
Companies racking up technical debt by not worrying about integrating their legacy systems could find that 2023 is the year it comes due (if it hasn’t already.) However, moving legacy systems to the cloud can be time-consuming and highly complex. This creates significant enterprise cloud challenges as companies try to find the balance.
There are several unintended consequences. First, it might cause organizations to pause cloud evolution in favor of prioritizing cloud cost optimization. Many companies made the mistake of “too much too fast” in their cloud adoption strategy, leaving glaring gaps in integration and disappointing ROI at the end of the deployment. Retroactively fixing the issue will be difficult.
Since legacy systems have little potential for integration with new software, replacing them could be top of mind in the coming years. However, the financial investment—not to mention the cost—of these upgrades could cause companies to opt out. This only delays the problem.
Instead, organizations must begin to take different approaches to modernize legacy systems. Hybrid cloud operations could offer a middle ground, provided companies have the expertise to test that integration solutions work. Companies might also consider deploying new platforms custom-built to work with all data sources, such as a data operating system. And finally, modernizing legacy systems over time could help companies take advantage of what the cloud offers without shouldering a complete upheaval.
Managing multi-cloud environments
Companies often use multiple cloud providers, making it challenging to manage and maintain consistency in terms of security, performance, and cost. They introduce complexity in integration—a common repeating problem—as well as management. Companies need teams with the specialized skills and tools to ensure consistency in security and performance.
Multi-cloud also makes compliance and security difficult. Without complete visibility across the cloud ecosystem, companies risk accidentally introducing vulnerabilities because different providers have different policies in place for compliance and security. Managing a multi-cloud environment will require a comprehensive strategy and a well-coordinated approach to address these challenges.
Enterprises can manage security in a multi-cloud environment with the following practices:
- Centralized security management: Enforces consistent policies, monitors activity, and responds to threats across the cloud ecosystem.
- Identity and Access Management (IAM): Controls who can access sensitive data and applications in the cloud and includes tools such as multi-factor authentication, role-based access, and policy-based controls.
- Encryption for data in transit and at-rest data: Protects all data from unauthorized access or theft, regardless of where it is stored in the cloud.
- Threat detection and response: Real-time threat detection and response capabilities, such as security information and event management (SIEM) systems, to identify and respond to potential security threats.
- Vendor management: Assessing the security posture of cloud providers and regularly monitoring their compliance with established security standards and policies. Regularly assessing and verifying the security posture of cloud platforms and services to ensure that security practices meet industry and government regulations.
- Training: Regular training for employees on security best practices and conducting security awareness campaigns to promote a culture of security within the organization.
Implementing these practices can help protect sensitive data in a multi-cloud environment, reducing the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.
Cost appears in the first section but bears repeating. Companies made big moves to the cloud to control the cost of big data processing but ended up with surprise costs that negated those efforts. Controlling and reducing the costs of cloud services while maximizing the benefits they offer is a major consideration as another year unfolds.
Enterprise cloud costs can be surprising for several reasons:
- Variable usage: Usage-based pricing can lead to unexpected costs if usage spikes or workloads are not correctly optimized.
- Data storage: Storing large amounts of data in the cloud can lead to unexpected costs, particularly when the data is rarely accessed.
- Data transfer: Transferring data in and out of the cloud can result in significant costs, especially if high bandwidth is required.
- Hidden costs: Some cloud services include additional fees for monitoring, backup, and disaster recovery features. If companies don’t pay attention to the fine print, this can lead to unwanted surprises.
- Contract terms: Cloud service providers may offer discounts for committing to long-term contracts, but these contracts can result in higher costs if the services are not used as intended.
- Lack of cost visibility: Visibility into cloud costs can be limited, making it difficult for organizations to monitor and control spending.
To avoid surprising costs, enterprises need to establish a cloud cost management strategy that includes monitoring usage, evaluating pricing and contract terms, and optimizing workloads for cost efficiency.
Changes in the workforce
One of the biggest challenges will lie in the very nature of work. Post-pandemic shifts to remote and distributed workforces plus skills shift further toward technological skills could present big obstacles to companies shaping a complete cloud strategy. However, companies that put people first will be able to find ways through it.
Enterprises can overcome talent shortages by:
- Upskill existing employees: Encourage current employees to expand their skill sets and acquire cloud-related knowledge and certification through training programs and online courses.
- Hire from a diverse pool of candidates: Consider candidates from non-traditional backgrounds, including individuals from different educational and cultural backgrounds.
- Partner with educational institutions: Collaborate with universities and technical schools to help create cloud computing programs and sponsor students interested in cloud careers.
- Foster a culture of learning and development: Encourage employees to continue learning and developing their skills and provide opportunities for them to do so through on-the-job training and internal knowledge-sharing programs.
- Work with cloud service providers: Utilize the expertise and resources of cloud service providers to help fill skill gaps and provide training and support to employees.
And to implement cloud computing that supports a distributed, remote workforce and its best potential:
- Invest in cloud infrastructure and tools: Ensure that employees have access to the right cloud tools and platforms that enable secure and seamless collaboration, regardless of location.
- Implement robust security measures: Ensure protection of sensitive data by implementing security protocols such as data encryption, two-factor authentication, and access control.
- Foster a culture of communication and collaboration: Encourage regular communication and collaboration between remote employees by using digital tools like video conferencing and instant messaging.
- Provide comprehensive training and support: Ensure remote employees have the skills and support to succeed in their roles by providing extensive training programs and ongoing support, not only in cloud processing but all professional growth. This increases retention and makes it more likely top candidates will choose a position with an organization.
- Establish clear protocols and procedures: Clearly define roles and responsibilities, as well as protocols for decision-making, problem-solving, and communication within any and all cloud-related activities.
Enterprises must understand cloud challenges before moving forward
Moving beyond theory and considering how the cloud will contribute to business value will allow companies to strategize effectively how to overcome enterprise cloud challenges and more . No matter what challenges happen in the world of cloud computing, the enterprise will continue to invest in cloud resources and deploy new initiatives, all in pursuit of optimization. The ones that succeed could win big.
Elizabeth Wallace is a Nashville-based freelance writer with a soft spot for data science and AI and a background in linguistics. She spent 13 years teaching language in higher ed and now helps startups and other organizations explain – clearly – what it is they do.