Too often, I see organizations rush headlong into public cloud investments, only to pull resources back on-premises in a matter of months. This is a move so commonplace that we at CDW have a term for it: the Cloud U-turn.
The problem, of course, isn’t with the public cloud itself. Countless companies are successfully running workloads with Microsoft Azure and other hyperscalers. But organizations run into predictable problems when they fail to anticipate common challenges and devise a plan to overcome them.
In particular, organizations should watch out for these four cloud pitfalls.
1. Unclear Business Drivers
The cloud isn’t magical. In effect, it’s simply a data center that exists outside of an organization. So, to justify a move to the public cloud, IT leaders need a clear sense of what challenges they’re trying to address. Often, people will simply cite their aging on-premises hardware, not realizing that a lift and shift to the cloud isn’t necessarily a cure-all that will result in long-term cost savings.
On the other hand, if organizations are experiencing challenges developing and deploying new applications due to the difficulty of quickly expanding on-premises hardware, the public cloud may very well help them solve their problems. But that’s the key: knowing what problem needs to be solved and ensuring that the cloud can help before making a move.
2. Lack of Executive Sponsorship
Any cloud migration requires an investment of time, people and financial resources. Usually, that money isn’t baked into an IT department’s budget, and even senior-level IT managers such as directors and vice presidents lack the ability to simply move money around within the organization. That’s why support from the executive suite is so important.
When CEOs and CFOs are invested in a move to the cloud, they’ll work to make sure IT shops have the resources they need. When they’re not invested, things can go wrong in a hurry.
3. Weak Cloud Security Strategy
“The cloud provider will take care of it” is not an effective security strategy. It’s true that public cloud vendors closely safeguard their infrastructure. But that’s just it — they’re protecting their environment, which, for Infrastructure as a Service providers, means that the focus is largely on securing the vendor’s hardware. Organizations still need to implement their own policies and procedures to prevent breaches. If an IT shop fails to encrypt data or establish appropriate access policies, no amount of cloud-layer security will be able to paper over these missteps.
4. Moving Too Fast, with Too Little Expertise
Don’t expect to move everything to the cloud over a weekend and then have everything up and running efficiently when people come back to work on Monday. A cloud migration should be treated like a brand-new build. Especially because the public cloud requires a unique (and in-demand) skill set, this might mean going at a slow pace. I recently spoke with one customer, for instance, that took 18 months to move 180 virtual machines to the public cloud.