Cloud migration, put simply, is moving digital assets from a physical data center to a cloud infrastructure. Completing this migration process can take a long time and a lot of effort – while it can be explained in a single sentence, cloud migration is certainly easier said than done.
Although the migration process can create a lot of challenges, the rewards are certainly worth it. It’s hard to say what the biggest benefit of cloud computing is, as migrating processes to the cloud can improve everything from accessibility to cybersecurity.
If you are struggling with cloud migration, you’re not alone. We’ve listed a few of the most common challenges encountered during the migration process below, alongside some potential solutions.
1. Resistance to Change
If you’re currently working in a position that does a lot of IT troubleshooting, you’ll know that a lot of the time it’s people that cause the problems, instead of the computers. With cloud migration, it’s much the same. Some individuals in your team might see the migration as unnecessary or disruptive.
The best solution for convincing employees to buy into cloud migration is making sure the cloud service you’re using is intuitive and user-friendly. The easier your systems and applications are to use after cloud migration is complete, the more attractive the migration process will seem to workers.
This challenge may have added difficulty if your company still has many Covid-19 restrictions in place, as it’s especially hard to get everyone on the same page when you’re in a remote working environment. However, cloud computing is particularly useful for creating a collaborative remote working environment, so you should relate these benefits to remote workers who are less receptive to cloud migration.
2. Hiring New Personnel
If you don’t have any cloud experts employed, but you’re interested in cloud migration, then you’ll need to hire new personnel to help with the process.
The challenge here is finding someone with in-depth knowledge of how to implement a cloud migration who you can also train to have an intimate knowledge of the digital assets you’re trying to migrate. For your cloud experts to be truly useful, they must understand your company’s systems and applications as well as they understand the cloud.
Once you’ve verified their cloud credentials and trained them in your company’s applications, another challenge is ensuring that new personnel understand your company’s standard operating procedures, and work well with your existing team. However, this should be addressed in any good onboarding program and isn’t unique to cloud migration.
3. Training Current Personnel
Although you’ll need a core team of experts working on the migration process, it’s important that all relevant employees are appropriately trained and educated.
This can be a particular challenge in two areas. First, you need to educate executives in your company. It’s important they understand that cloud migration is a valuable initiative and is worth the cost in time and money.
Secondly, you need to train the people who will be using the newly-migrated applications so that they adopt the new cloud-based system welcomingly. A good idea is to reinforce the usability and convenience of the system, as we suggested in our first section on Resistance to Change.
Make the cloud a focus of the training, but don’t forget about the details that are vital to the standard training process as well. Ensure you’re training the right people, make sure your trainers understand the topic well, and (if anyone is working remotely) make certain that you’re using a suitable communication tool.
4. A Lack of Planning
Although you may be impatiently waiting to enjoy the benefits of cloud computing, cloud migration is not something you can walk into blindly. It requires a lot of time, effort, and money, so make sure you have a financial plan and a good understanding of how the migration will affect your operations.
With that in mind, it’s smart to try processes mapping before you begin the cloud migration. This will allow you to see what the most integral processes in your business are, so you can decide what can be delayed while cloud migration occurs and what must continue.
You also need to analyze the current state of your IT team, any ongoing issues with your day-to-day operations, and your budget before you even begin to plan for cloud migration. The impact of the process will be wide-ranging, and although it will be a huge improvement once finished, the more you prepare, the less disruption you’ll face while the migration occurs.
5. Financial Costs
In the long run, cloud computing saves your company money by improving efficiency and lowering hardware costs. However, the migration process itself can be expensive. You need to budget for training and hiring staff, bandwidth costs, and the cost of any new automation tools you might need. If you don’t, you might run out of money before you can enjoy the benefits of a cloud-based system.
Spreading your money too thin is one of the more common mistakes. Don’t undertake a big process like cloud migration if your finances are still recovering from the computer telephony integration service you’ve just installed or the new equipment the shipping team ordered.
A good solution to costs is to migrate in increments. Not every asset needs to be cloud-based immediately, so migrate systems in order of importance. This turns one huge, expensive project into a series of smaller, cheaper tasks.
6. A Lack of Documentation
A lack of documentation is an enormous hurdle when it comes to cloud migration. “A lack of documentation” in this instance refers to a lack of information regarding how the app you’re trying to migrate actually works.
Say you’re trying to host your business VoIP system on the cloud, but the features were designed or installed by a team that is no longer with the company. You’ll need to spend some time looking into how the system works, and more importantly, how you can migrate it from your legacy infrastructure to the cloud.
Automation can help greatly with this. If you’re struggling with a lack of documentation, invest in discovery tools – these are specialized kinds of software that can scan your network to identify and categorize all the hardware and software that you’re currently using. Discovery tools also map out how each of these assets interacts with one another, a must-have for cloud migration.
Cybersecurity should always be a concern if your company has important data stored. When you’re migrating to cloud computing, you need to make sure that you maintain the same level of security.
Luckily, there are many, many different security solutions you can implement to protect your data – everything from data encryption to artificial intelligence can improve your cybersecurity. Protecting a cloud network is similar in many ways to protecting your data center. Measures like two-factor authentication and malware protection are still very useful.
The first thing people tend to think of when cybersecurity is mentioned is protecting your company files from hackers, but with the cloud, you also need to be aware of the security risk posed by employees. One benefit of cloud computing is that it can be accessed off-site, so you need to make all relevant employees aware of how to keep their passwords (and therefore any sensitive data) safe.
8. Going Live Without Testing
As with any new technology, you need to test your systems thoroughly after migrating to the cloud. You need to make sure that all the features you used previously are still working, and you need to ensure that any new functionality that’s available due to the cloud migration is working too.
Testing is vital because of the scale of cloud migration. If you go live with a system after it has been migrated, and problems emerge that you didn’t test for, fixing them is much more disruptive than it would be before taking the system live.
If you and your staff don’t have a lot of experience in software testing, consider hiring a specialist to make sure all of your systems are in working order. If you do intend to undertake the testing yourself, make sure you’ve done your research – there are a lot of software testing myths that could have serious ramifications if you aren’t aware of them.
9. Underusing Automation
Considering the quality of the available tools for process automation, there is no good reason for not automating at least part of your cloud migration. RPA (robotic process automation) is fantastically useful for cloud migration, considering the number of repetitive and rules-based tasks involved.
The software testing we mentioned in the previous section can be automated, as you can automate processes like workload testing. The discovery tools discussed previously are also a hugely useful form of automation.
Automation is handy for reducing the human labor needed for repetitive tasks, but it can also take care of some of the technical parts of migration for you like optimizing your network. This removes some of the need for human cloud experts and can cut down on training and hiring costs.
Difficult, But Far From Impossible
We won’t lie – successful cloud migration is tough. As we’ve shown in the article, there are a lot of potential challenges. However, we’ve also laid out a ton of solutions. There are innumerable resources online discussing the best way to approach cloud migration and a ton of tools for cloud migration that help automate and streamline the process. If you hit a stumbling block, don’t be afraid to search around – there is sure to be a solution.