Moving software systems to the cloud is considered one of the most cost-effective scaling methods. Indeed, by dynamically allocating computing resources, companies are able to reduce the cost of deploying and operating applications significantly. No need to buy servers, you can use precisely the amount of server capacity you need at the moment - no more, no less. At the same time, however, there are certain risks of moving to the cloud before you perform the procedure. Let's take a look at the problems you are likely to encounter when moving to the cloud.
Why companies are migrating to the cloud
Usually, every type of business has specific periods during the year when the load on the company's services is much higher than average. For example, we can take any well-known online store. Every new promotion, marketing campaign, or discount on goods entails a significant flow of users. Which, in turn, very heavily loads the servers on which the platform runs.
There are two problems: first, how to scale the service to withstand the load, and second, what to do if you need more physical resources. You can solve the first problem by creating copies of your service and using load balancers. This is even easier and more efficient if you have a microservice architecture. But the second problem is more complicated because you cannot buy new servers quickly. That is, if there has been improper resource planning in the long run, adding resources quickly will be almost impossible. Then Cloud solutions come to the rescue, which is at the top of the technological hype.
At the same time, not every cloud project takes off. Experts believe that it is not the clouds themselves but the way companies approach migration to the cloud environment. The problems arising in this process can be divided into two types: wrong actions at the preparatory stage and technical difficulties encountered directly when migrating resources to the cloud. Here are the most common problems that arise.
Security and privacy
There is a common misconception that if the cloud provider is responsible for cloud security, then the company itself does not need to take care of it. Yes, the provider is responsible for the physical security of the cloud platform, but no more than that. Everything that is "on top" of the platform. That's why cyber incidents in these areas are most often caused internally, not by the provider.
The cloud provider is not responsible for the security of the company's application, but only provides a console for managing resources. All further actions are the responsibility of the business. If the company decides to open all the ports on the firewall, it is up to the company to deal with the consequences. It is also the responsibility of the application owner to authorize users safely and to detect threats.
When moving to the cloud, you need to pay maximum attention to security (two-factor authentication, traffic encryption, penetration tests, etc.) and compliance. The provider provides only the tools, but companies must use them correctly. This should be taken into account at all stages of migration, and strictly monitor compliance with all rules.
Proper planning is the cornerstone of successful cloud migration. But it's not that you must prepare in advance for absolutely every possible contingency, but rather that you must fully understand your existing infrastructure and target migration environment.
It's critical to determine the business case for moving to the cloud and conduct a readiness assessment for the process. This will give you the information you need to determine how much work will be required to keep your current workflows in the cloud running smoothly. Once this is established, it will be possible to decide on the likely cost, timeline, and return so that all stakeholders know what they are signing up for before the migration begins.
Once the initial assessment is complete, strategy development can begin in earnest. Critical decisions - such as whether workloads should be upgraded before, during, or after the migration - can be made confidentially based on clearly defined goals agreed upon early on. In addition, it will become much easier to prioritize tasks effectively according to the organization's needs.
Conduct a detailed assessment of your existing infrastructure, and then consider improvements that will ensure good performance in the cloud.
Losing some features when moving from one cloud provider to another
Companies may switch from one cloud provider to another if they plan to scale further, change their service plan or add new system features. This can cause some threats to internal corporate data, as leaks typically occur when migrating from one platform to another. This particular risk increases depending on the complexity of the current feature set of the deployed software.
To manage this aspect, you should first choose a cloud provider that is fully scalable and offers an appropriate pricing policy. Alternatively, you can try to implement the bulk of the functionality, which includes essential data on the client side, without any connection to the server.
Keep in mind that you may encounter wholly new and different configurations, technology bases, tools, and the like when migrating a cloud platform. Just be prepared for manual setup if you want the smoothest possible migration. Most likely be migrating a recent backup of your system that needs to be deployed to the new cloud. Your main goal should be to be ready to manually fix and prevent many migration issues.
Savings don't always occur
Many IT leaders cite savings as an important factor in moving to the cloud for customers. But customers' hopes are not always met. For example, a company "moved" to the cloud, and all services work fine, but the cost of the provider's services turns out to be exorbitantly high. This happens, experts say, when, for example, they forget to turn off services after hours and reduce the amount and power of consumed resources if they are not needed at a particular time. It is also important to check the monthly report for services that are not actually rendered. With the right approach, the cloud can really contribute to savings.
The best way to avoid unnecessarily high cloud migration costs is to be prepared. Before adopting a migration plan, work with your cloud provider on the costs associated with the migration. Planned cloud migration costs should include cloud platform infrastructure costs, migration costs, financial risks related to slow implementation, and necessary training that will be required after the migration. If charges are not planned properly, the budget needed to cover all of these costs will be a barrier to moving to the cloud.
Low application performance after migration
Let's imagine a classic application of several standard components: a database, a web interface, the application itself, and a service or service. Hosting in its own perimeter will likely require several servers. If the application is business-critical, it must be fault-tolerant, which means you need a DB cluster or mirroring, a load balancer for the web server, and capacity reserves. Transferring all this to the cloud, we got a massive pool of resources, which should be managed and maintained, but such a solution will not be flexible.
In terms of components and resources to support it, moving it to the cloud is disadvantageous. Given the variety of cloud services and types of storage, it is elementary to face the problem of system performance - it may be less compared to the on-premise solution if suboptimal options are selected.
One last point: everyone inevitably faces peak loads after migration. With such a complex architecture, it is complicated to scale the application quickly. And that means overpaying for hosting.
Most importantly, carefully plan everything "onshore", decide on the architecture, and bring in external experts if the team does not have enough experience in this area. For example, if the goal is to become cloud independent so that all data and components can be deployed quickly and in any environment, implement service monitoring and alerting on priority metrics. On this basis, you can additionally implement autohealing and auto scaling mechanisms - so the application will automatically respond to changes in load, and its availability will significantly increase.
In most cases, a large-scale cloud migration only happens once in a company's lifetime, so it's not surprising that not all team members will have such experience in their arsenal. As a result, there may be a lack of confidence in their steps and the right level of competence, resulting in slow and unstable progress. Moreover, this can manifest itself as serious omissions, which, in turn, jeopardize the safety and reliability of the system.
In such a case, not only the migration itself may be at risk, but also the process of managing the cloud environment as a whole, leading to poor cost control and the inability to take advantage of cloud benefits such as flexibility and scalability.
The first step to overcoming this problem is recognizing that entirely new skills are needed. Hiring more experienced staff may be one easy option to solve the problem, but it is rarely enough. This is because new hires usually lack in-depth knowledge of existing infrastructure, which is important to ensure a smooth transition to the cloud.
Investing in and supporting your current team is usually the key to making it a success. Partnering with a trusted third party that has a proven track record with migrations to a targeted cloud provider can also help ensure the best results. Ideally, they should still be well-versed in current approaches, which will get you started with best practices in infrastructure design.
Make sure your team members are trained in cloud engineering or DevOps and agile practices to ensure stable cloud management. Long-term mentoring, coaching, or technical support for operations is guaranteed to pay dividends.
Not fully deleted data
Regardless of which cloud format your company chooses - SaaS, IaaS, or PaaS; in either case, normal users will not have full access to all server-side configurations. This, in turn, generates more cloud migration risks and, in particular, means that any attempt to delete data may fail. That is, some segments or chunks of data may remain somewhere in the cloud storage while they appear to be deleted entirely on the user side. Also note that the more duplicate data you use from service to service, the more likely this problem will occur.
Before agreeing with a particular cloud provider, familiarize yourself with their security and data privacy policies. It is better to take on the responsibility of someone who is knowledgeable enough to deal with the issue.
The reason for failure may also be that companies have legacy infrastructure that needs to connect with cloud solutions. If there are a lot of legacy code and architecture flaws, it is challenging to build a strategy and determine the real benefits of cloud migration. The provider will offer easy and fast connectivity, but the application architecture will negate any benefits. It will require the intervention of experts, an audit of the application code, and its revision.
Avoiding the problem helps to detail the internal infrastructure, which components it consists of, how applications interact with each other, which can only be transferred at one time, and so on.
Developing the right cloud strategy and ensuring that all of these aspects are taken into account is a complex task. You'll need engineering expertise and skilled professionals who can offer reliable solutions. A holistic approach to cloud migration - from the mechanics of the transition to managing short- and long-term costs and staff development - is the secret to success. There is no one right way to migrate. But taking the time to pre-assess your existing infrastructure and understand the fundamental skill gaps is the best way to get started.