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8 Key Cloud Migration Challenges (and How to Solve Them)

8 Key Cloud Migration Challenges (and How to Solve Them)

This post has been co-authored with Riaz Merchant, President and CEO at Mertech.

Cloud migration is a major shift for businesses aiming to harness the power of Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).  

That comes as no surprise since the Cloud enables greater IT efficiency and operational agility. 

Take, for instance, Netflix, which completed its cloud migration in 2016. This allowed the company to drastically improve its service scalability and reliability, catering to millions of users worldwide without skipping a beat. 

However, the path to the Cloud is fraught with challenges.   

From daunting security and compliance cloud migration risks, reported by 56% of CIOs, to the pitfalls of inadequate planning and process optimization, the journey is anything but straightforward.  

In this article, we'll explore the nuanced cloud migration challenges and shed light on the strategies you can use to overcome them.  

Why is Cloud Migration Becoming Popular Despite its Challenges? 

In 2024, the number of organizations adopting cloud solutions is a staggering 94% 

At its core, this rapid shift towards the Cloud is driven by the undeniable allure of scaling IT needs on the fly, without the hefty upfront investment in physical infrastructure. These cloud migration benefits are crucial in today's fast-paced market, where adapting quickly can mean the difference between leading the pack and lagging behind.  

Moreover, companies are finding that by moving to the Cloud, they can streamline operations, enhance collaboration, and boost innovation. The Cloud offers a playground for experimenting with new ideas, leveraging advanced analytics, and even employing AI, all without the burden of managing complex hardware setups.  

Business Advantages that outweigh the Cloud Migration Challenges.

It's this combination of cloud migration cost benefits, operational flexibility, and the capacity for innovation that's convincing an increasing number of businesses to embrace the Cloud.  

But despite the numerous benefits, there are some challenges you should be aware of before moving to the Cloud. 

Cloud Migration Challenges 

Let's delve into the most common data migration to cloud challenges faced during cloud migration: 

1. Skills Gap (Retain or Retrain) 

The transition from traditional, Windows-centric development to the multifaceted demands of cloud computing can be daunting for traditional developers as they might not have the skills to: 

  • Maintain complex networks that hook customers' remote sites into cloud-based web applications 
  • Develop APIs 
  • Create front-end mobile applications and web pages 

Solution: For larger enterprises, the solution may seem straightforward: hire additional developers or invest in retraining the current workforce to bridge this gap.  

However, if you have a small to mid-sized business, you might face a more challenging task, having to make do with limited resources. In this case, you should focus on strategic planning and prioritization.  

Overall, you should aim to identify critical areas for cloud development and focus on upskilling employees in these domains. You can also invest in targeted training programs and workshops to equip existing staff with the necessary cloud competencies. 

2. Adapting the Business Model 

This is a major challenge, especially for companies deeply rooted in desktop-based software.  

The problem?  

You will have to bring your loyal customer base to the Cloud while also opening doors for new users to explore your legacy desktop offerings. 

The shift towards the Cloud has intensified global competition, prompting vendors to innovate with cost-effective, subscription-based models to attract and retain customers.  

For instance, the CRM software market has evolved from exclusive, high-cost solutions to accessible services like Zoho CRM's free web-based offering, with upgrades starting at a mere $12 per user per month.  

Solution: Make it your mission to distinguish your cloud offerings and simultaneously encourage new customers to discover the value in your desktop software. This balancing act is crucial for staying relevant and thriving in a cloud-centric world. 

3. Cost 

The cost of cloud migration is not just about the initial investment – it's about smartly managing your resources to avoid unexpected expenses down the line.  

The truth is, while the Cloud promises efficiency and scalability, without meticulous planning and management, costs can balloon, leaving you grappling with budget overruns.  

Solution: Embrace strategic planning and incremental migration. Break down the migration into phases, which not only makes the financial burden more manageable but also allows for corrections along the way. Also, consider a hybrid cloud migration approach, which offers the flexibility to scale up or down based on demand, potentially optimizing costs.  

4. Security and Compliance 

If you're jumping into cloud migration, security and compliance might be keeping you up at night, and rightly so. With the digital landscape more complex than ever, the fear of data breaches, cloud outages and compliance failure is real.  

But don't panic just yet, as tackling cloud migration security risks is manageable with the right approach.  

Solution: First, you should encrypt data both in transit and at rest to create a robust barrier against unauthorized access and other cloud migration security challenges. Secondly, partner with your cloud provider to ensure compliance with industry regulations. They've been down this road and have the map to navigate through the compliance jungle.  

5. Vendor Lock-in 

Venturing into cloud migration brings with it the cautionary tale of vendor lock-in. It's the scenario where you find your business tightly intertwined with a cloud provider's ecosystem, making the thought of switching services not just daunting but also costly.  

Imagine diving deep into AWS's unique offerings only to realize later that Google Cloud or another provider better suits your evolving needs. Suddenly, the transition seems like an uphill battle since you rely heavily on specific tools and services.   

Solution: Embrace a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy. This approach offers the flexibility to distribute your resources across different environments, reducing dependency on a single vendor. It's about safeguarding your business's agility and ensuring your cloud infrastructure can adapt seamlessly to future changes, all while keeping a keen eye on optimizing costs and enhancing efficiency.  

6. Data Size and Migration Complexities 

Another on-premise to cloud migration challenge you'll encounter is the sheer size and complexity of your data.  

It's easy to underestimate this giant, thinking you can lift and shift your legacy systems without a hitch. Yet, this path can lead to unexpected downtime, functionality losses, and, inevitably, customer dissatisfaction and productivity setbacks.  

Solution: Start with a comprehensive assessment of your current setup to pinpoint compatibility issues and dependencies. You should also draw up a detailed migration roadmap that will make your leap to the Cloud both calculated and secure. Additionally, aim for a cloud provider that aligns with your unique requirements to ensure your migration is as smooth as possible. 

7. Compatibility Issues 

Unfortunately, cloud migration is not as simple as "copy-pasting" your current system into the Cloud.  

That makes compatibility issues quite common technical challenges in cloud migration. They stem from the fact that your legacy systems may not fit in smoothly with the sleek, new cloud environment.  

So, what can you do to solve this?  

Solution: If you opt for a phased migration strategy, you will be able to first move the applications that require no modifications for cloud compatibility. Next, you can adjust your virtual network to ensure seamless communication with your on-premises setup. Finally, consider re-architecting or retiring those stubborn applications that just won't fit.  

This approach offers a practical roadmap, ensuring a smoother transition to the Cloud without sacrificing your operational integrity. 

8. Adoption Resistance 

Facing adoption resistance when shifting to the Cloud?  

You're not alone.  

Many organizations fear losing control over familiar processes and data. Additionally, telling your team that everything is about to change is daunting.  

Solution: It's all about embracing change with open arms and a clear plan. Begin by getting everyone on board with a comprehensive change management strategy.  

Engage your team with transparent communication, highlight the benefits, and provide ample training on the new cloud tools and processes.  

Remember, involvement and education are key. By addressing concerns directly and showcasing the positive impact of cloud adoption, you'll pave the way for a smoother transition, ensuring everyone feels confident and ready to embrace the new cloud-centric way of working. 

Infographic that showcases the main cloud migration challenges

How to Overcome Cloud Migration Challenges? 

Overcoming cloud migration challenges might seem overwhelming, but with a strategic approach, it's entirely achievable. Here are a few cloud migration best practices to keep in mind: 

  • Risk assessment: Start with a thorough cloud migration risk assessment, diving deep into what could go wrong and preparing for it. This step is about foreseeing potential pitfalls – be it technical, compliance-related, or operational – and crafting a strategy to mitigate these risks.  
  • Infrastructure mapping and migration planning: Before moving anything, map out your entire infrastructure and plan how each component will migrate to the Cloud. This blueprint should outline which applications and data will move, in what order, and how they will interconnect in their new environment. This will help you minimize disruptions during the migration. 
  • Data encryption: Security cannot be an afterthought. Encrypting your data before, during, and after migration is non-negotiable. This step is crucial for protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access throughout the entire process.
  • Gradual (phased) migration: Don't try to move everything at once. A phased migration approach allows you to test the waters with less critical applications and data first, making adjustments as needed before proceeding with more vital elements. This method reduces risk and provides valuable insights that can be applied to subsequent phases, ensuring a smoother overall transition.
  • Maintenance and monitoring: Post-migration, the work isn't over. Ongoing maintenance and proactive monitoring are essential to ensure your cloud environment remains optimized, secure, and aligned with your business goals. Regularly review performance metrics, security alerts, and cost reports to tweak and refine your setup, ensuring it continues to meet your needs effectively. 

How to Leverage APIs to Mitigate Cloud Migration Challenges 

Migrating to the Cloud involves aligning various components for seamless integration. That's where APIs come in.  

API-driven development ensures all elements are designed from the outset to work together harmoniously. This enables: 

  • Accessibility: By putting APIs at the forefront of your development strategy, every component of your application is crafted to be accessible through APIs from the get-go. This approach eliminates the all-too-common scenario where parts of your application end up isolated because they weren't designed with API access in mind. 
  • Distributed and modular architecture: APIs encourage a structure where applications are not just a single monolith but a collection of interconnected modules. This architecture not only facilitates easier cloud migration but also enhances the scalability and flexibility of your systems. 
  • Modular CI/CD pipelines: With APIs, your CI/CD pipelines become more modular. This means you can update, test, and deploy different parts of your application independently, reducing bottlenecks and improving efficiency. 
  • Cloud-friendly apps: By designing for connectivity, your apps are naturally predisposed to integrate smoothly with cloud services, making the transition to the Cloud much more straightforward. 

Lead a Successful Cloud Migration Project with Mertech 

Whether you acknowledge it or not, your company is now competing globally. To keep up, you must offer something unique via the Cloud and entice new customers to invest in the desktop-based software that got you started in the first place. 

If you're not sure where to start and how to navigate the complex cloud migration process, Mertech is here to help. As a proud Microsoft Gold Competency in Cloud Platform holder, we are an experienced cloud migration service provider, ready to support you throughout every step of the journey.  

Are you ready to migrate to the Cloud with our guidance?  

Schedule a Free Consultation

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is Cloud Migration Important?
Cloud migration unleashes a new level of flexibility in your business operations. This further unlocks enhanced scalability, efficiency, and accessibility. In simpler terms, it helps your business grow without the growing pains.  
2. Why is Cloud Migration Risky?
By venturing into cloud migration, you might face some unexpected challenges. From data security concerns to potential downtime, the risks are real but manageable with careful planning.  
3. Can the Benefits of Cloud Migration Outweigh the Risks?
Absolutely! The benefits of cloud migration, including scalability, cost efficiency, and improved performance, can significantly outweigh the risks when planned and executed properly. 
4. Why Don't All Major Companies Leverage the Benefits of Cloud Migration?
Even giants can be wary of change. Some companies may hesitate due to the scale of migration, legacy system complexities, or the daunting task of ensuring data security. It's a big leap, but one worth taking.  
5. Which Cloud Deployment Model Has the Least Risks with Cloud Migration?
Private clouds offer a controlled environment, making them a safer bet for those cautious about security and compliance. However, the "best" model really depends on your specific business needs and goals.  
6. Which Cloud Solutions Provider Offers the Best Support with Cloud Migration Challenges?
It's not about the biggest name but the right fit for your business. Look for providers with a track record of supporting businesses like yours through the migration process. A good partner doesn't just lead the way they walk beside you, offering support every step of the way.  
7. How to Benefit from Cloud Migration Despite the Challenges?
Focus on the outcomes you want to achieve—enhanced performance, cost savings, and scalability. With a well-thought-out strategy, the right tools, and expert guidance, the journey can be as rewarding as the destination.  
8. What is the Advantage of Having a Cloud Migration Partner?
Embarking on a cloud migration journey alone can feel like navigating a labyrinth. A reliable partner acts as your guide, offering expertise, support, and peace of mind. They can help you turn the complex cloud migration process into a smooth transition. 


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