JOHANNESBURG – There are many reasons why cloud migrations tend to fail, it could be a financial challenge, a lack of vision or the biggest problem – resistance to change. To start off with, business leaders must ensure their cloud strategy is aligned with their business goals.
People are resistant to change so when dealing with new cloud technologies, businesses are likely to encounter a skills gap with existing staff. Furthermore, a lack of vision from management and staff will have an enormous effect on the success of the project.
Old technology may keep the business ticking over, but it also severely inhibits change. It also consumes budgets and limited resources that should rather be spent on strategic projects. Similarly, inflexible architecture cannot scale to meet changing requirements, so businesses pay for unused redundancy to cope with peaks in demand.
Even if businesses do have additional funds available, old technology reduces the scope for new deployments because of interoperability issues. According to Gartner, 80% of money spent on IT is 'dead money', used to 'keep the lights on'.
Cloud adoption is not about massive cost savings. The whole approach to finance will need to change in order to succeed. If it doesn’t, the migration project is likely to fail.
The pay-as-you-use cloud model changes IT spend from Capex to Opex. However, the switch to SaaS and PaaS will need to be closely monitored and controlled to prevent overspend. What’s more, applications may need to be re-engineered to take full advantage of PaaS so that businesses don’t consume billable resources unnecessarily.
Most companies simply do not fully understand their current infrastructure, which is a significant problem when planning a migration to the cloud. They lack a detailed asset inventory for their data centre and do not have easy oversight of hardware and software maintenance contracts which are often placed in limbo between IT and finance, with neither party wanting to take responsibility.
No easy oversight of hardware and software maintenance contracts also makes it harder to understand what you are paying for. As always, the answer is to engineer systems that break these silos, giving teams the oversight they need to better plan and manage operations – both onsite and in the cloud. Without reviewing existing infrastructure, companies cannot start the migration journey – or assess progress once they have begun.
Data silos prevent most businesses from accurately assessing performance – which makes forward planning an exercise in guesswork, not evidence-based decision-making. In many cases, real-time information simply isn’t available or is incomplete.
This lack of oversight makes strategic decision-making almost impossible in the age of disruptive computing and digital transformation. Increasing real-time visibility will need to be a priority as you transition to the cloud.
Knowing IT assets is one thing but understanding how they are used is another. Businesses with failing cloud migration projects typically lack several key insights. In the same way that businesses lack insight into their existing infrastructure, many have not fully understood how it is being used.
This means they are unable to align services to infrastructure, map out service dependencies, or build an application and service roadmap to plan how cloud-based systems will affect or improve system usage.
Despite massive improvements in data protection technologies, many businesses are still leaving themselves unprotected. For many companies, Disaster Recovery plans are regarded as an insurance policy and are never tested or updated.
This is compounded by a fear of change and an inability to reverse what they do if something goes wrong, and can lead to migrations being delayed, down-scaled or even the cause of data loss. Testing DR plans and provisions is essential to establishing confidence, both in DR, and the ability to roll-back if required.
In most cases, data is understood in its primary context, such as CRM for sales and marketing, and finance for accounts. This singular view of data exposes a lack of understanding about unstructured data and its potential. Failure to address this approach limits the scope of cloud projects, leads to missed opportunities, and fundamentally undermines system design which also increases the cost of re-architecting applications.
Legislation, such as GDPR and PoPIA, along with industry regulations affects how data is used and stored in the cloud. Failure to account for these factors can cause cloud projects to fail. Rules regarding data storage and security are complex and easy to breach.
Factors to consider when moving to the cloud are storing data in compliant systems, and within the relevant national boundaries. Information must be secured properly, with safeguards in place to limit sharing only with permitted partners.
And don’t forget, GDPR and PoPIA give individuals complete control over their data so systems need to enable that control. Massive fines means a data breach is simply not an option, and this risk can seriously hamper any cloud migration project.
IT keeps systems running and finance pays the bills, but neither department knows exactly what they are paying for. Is the business making direct debit payments for licenses or contracts that are no longer required?
Without a deep understanding of financial insight, businesses cannot build a TCO. Companies need to be able to answer questions like 'if we don’t renew, what happens' and 'Which resource does that payment refer to'.
Lack of understanding of future maintenance liabilities is another challenge. When considering cloud migration, many cost-benefit analysis exercises neglect to calculate the future cost of maintaining and supporting existing on-site assets.
OEM maintenance contract costs can increase by 20 percent each year, or more. And it’s factors like this that are easily overlooked when performing a cost analysis. To succeed, businesses need to consider cloud migration projects in terms of the cost of not making the move to hosted infrastructure.
The hardest part of any successful cloud migration is the planning and preparation that takes place before work starts. But, the rewards of a discovery stage to understand the current state of one's infrastructure – and how applications and services are used – can create a long-term impact.
Nick Durrant is the managing director of Bluegrass Digital. The views expressed here are his own.