5 ways your cloud migration may fail—and 5 ways to succeed


For most companies, migrating to the cloud is no longer a question of if but when. By moving applications to the cloud, you can improve security, data access, scalability, and IT flexibility, just for starters. Moving to the cloud can also .

However, be forewarned: Not all cloud deployments go smoothly. Migrations often take longer than expected, or they fail completely, resulting in wasted time and expense. It’s not unusual to discover, after moving an app into the cloud, that it doesn’t work as well there as it did on-premises.

The result might just be another migration—back to the data center.

A , sponsored by security provider Fortinet and conducted by supply chain specialists IHS Markit, found that many companies, 74% of those surveyed, have moved a cloud-based app back on-premises after failing to achieve the anticipated benefits.

This isn’t a new problem. A Google search of cloud migration failures will find examples going back several years. We’ve been discussing the problem for some time, and the problem is not a failure of technology, but a failure of leadership.

Here are five leading causes of cloud migration failures, and what you can do to succeed.

design, where the app is elastic and scales up and down as needed. Containerize your app, so it runs on and is managed by . All of the major cloud providers offer services to assist with Kubernetes both on-premises and in the cloud.

“The most successful organizations I know have used the fundamentally different nature of cloud to innovate, not just replicate – delivering that new prototype they never could before, getting service to a level that customers never expected, and engaging in new ways with new applications for new markets,” said Mann.

Cloud migration steps to success #4: Have a cohesive strategy

Approaching the cloud strategically means rethinking , , , , , , and on and on. Technology is only a small part, but one where a cohesive strategy can quickly unravel. A successful migration includes making conscious portfolio decisions of what to keep on-prem and what to move, which platforms to stick with or abandon, and how to refactor applications to take advantage of the cloud’s benefits. By standardizing on common compute, storage, and database platforms, you can reduce both complexity and the costs of management and operations.

Keeping things simple also means avoiding an overcomplex migration and biting off more than you can chew. Bad things happen when the scope of the project is too vast or the time frame or budget is too small. Don’t do it all at once. Break up the project in stages and tackle them one at a time. Adopt an iterative, devops-like approach. Do one piece, make sure it works, then move on to the next piece of the project.

Cloud migration steps to success #5: Consider a new data model

A migration to the cloud could mean the opportunity for a completely new data model. Putting data in the cloud is an opportunity to expand the data model to one that is much wider. For example, moving to a more customer-centric model could mean bringing in more data from many different sources.

Your old on-prem data might have a simple customer input, like name and address, but your new cloud data might draw from social media, IoT devices, and other sources. Or you might even migrate to a completely different data analysis platform. Amazon Redshift is PostgreSQL-compatible, but Google’s BigQuery uses different types than typical SQL or PostgreSQL. And Snowflake supports various formats for semi-structured data.

“In theory, you are changing business practices, so what you need from your data is different,” said Greenbaum. “Changes in data quality are as political a decision as anything else. It’s not just a simple question of let’s put our data in the cloud, it becomes a real change management problem.”