Blog · 02 Mar 2021

How to avoid the 6 big pitfalls in cloud transformation

With 70% of cloud migration projects failing to achieve their goals, organisations must address security, performance, standards, skills shortages and cost controls to achieve success.

Bruno Fleisch
Head of compute, Europe

Organisations are clear on the benefits of the cloud: cost savings, flexibility, rapid implementation, easy collaboration, a strong competitive edge – the list goes on.

But, unfortunately, realising these benefits is not just a case of flicking a switch; cloud transformation is a journey, and there are challenges at every stage.

The bad news is that 70% of cloud migration projects fail to achieve their return on investment or deliver the desired outcomes1. So, where can it all go wrong, and what are the pitfalls organisations need to watch out for?

6 ways organisations don’t get the foundations right for cloud

A successful cloud implementation needs the right organisational and technical aspects in place. Here are some of the key areas that often get overlooked:

1. Security requirements
Security is one of the main reasons why cloud projects fail. As you move IT outside the traditional walls of your carefully secured premises, your attack surface increases. Organisations fail to carry out a complete review of their security policies and governance and don’t use new technologies to build strong defences.

2. Adopting a new operating model
Getting the right operating model for managing applications in the cloud is critical for the success of cloud projects. Remember that cloud technologies develop applications in a very different, agile, way. This takes a new infrastructure, management policies and a DevOps practice.

3. A ‘cloud landing zone’
The right landing zone makes sure you have the underlying core configuration you need for your cloud adoption environment. It delivers standardisation, automation for repeatability, security policies, deployment and management designs and networking principles to build the solid foundations that de-risk migrations at scale. Getting this right can be a challenge; it’s a complex process, and organisations often face a skills shortage or haven’t got good practices built by experience on similar projects to refer back to.

4. Financial tracking
Cloud resources are highly dynamic by nature and their consumptions and costs can fluctuate a lot over time. Costs will sprawl out of control if you don’t create a proper model to monitor finances, predict future consumptions, identify potential savings and share costs across the different internal business entities.

5. Context setting
It’s vital to understand your current environment and applications estate to prepare for a successful migration journey. You need to define your approach across your organisation and bring together all the different technologies that used to be designed and operated in isolation.

Organisations often struggle to find the right skills for this task internally, so it can be missed out.

6. Driving cloud from the top down
Working effectively in a new cloud paradigm means adjusting IT, operations, finance, legal and development teams - even HR in some cases. As a result, any attempt to adopt cloud in a bottom-up approach is likely to deliver poor results. A great way to overcome this issue is make the cloud agenda a board priority to drive organisational alignment through sponsorship, resources and funding.

The importance of being ready for hybrid and multi-cloud

Cloud’s not just located in hyperscalers’ premises. It spans a wide range of different locations: from customer datacentres and edge sites, to network operators’ facilities to name just a few. It can also be embedded in an environment that has intermittent or no network connectivity, such as in vehicles or ships. We find that our customers tend to use different cloud providers to address different use cases and choose different locations to run their workloads.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for cloud, and this adds a complexity that can trip up unwary organisations. You’ll want to implement a variety of uses cases, and so you’ll need to create more complex solutions that must integrate different solutions and different technologies.

The challenge of unlocking the full benefits of the cloud

I’m noticing that even our more technologically advanced customers struggle to achieve the full benefits of the cloud.

It’s a complex challenge to optimise application performances and reliability, as well as reducing costs and implementing a ‘cloud financial culture’ (FinOps). It’s also increasingly difficult to cope with the speed of innovation and the rate that cloud vendors are introducing new services. AWS, for instance, has a wide portfolio of more than 175 products and services for cloud and adds new services every month.

However, these new technologies and innovations are critical to maximising the real benefits of the cloud. Using these services is key to further optimising applications that were just ‘lifted and shifted’ from legacy platforms. But organisations that postpone these modernisations often accumulate deficits – a so called ‘technology debt’ – that leads to more cost and lower performance in the long run.

Where are you on your journey to the cloud?

Each stage of the transformation journey has different priorities, so identifying where you are right now will help define your action plan.

Stage 1 - Exploring
You’re planning your move to the cloud with various stakeholders in your organisation. Your priorities are to de-risk the migration and create a compelling business case for transformation.

Stage 2 - Implementing
You’re setting up an effective organisation and the appropriate technical foundations to standardise and automate your cloud deployments. 

Stage 3 – Transforming 
You’re migrating at scale, using public or private clouds, central platforms or sites at the Edge. You’re executing your business strategy and relying on the landing zones you defined in the previous steps.

Stage 4 – Improving
This is a never-ending phase where you continuously seek to improve performances, agility and availability while reducing costs.

Take the next steps

Our experts are available to advise you on how to move to the next stage of your transformation journey.

Our Smart Transformation workshops, for example, are strategy sessions delivered by consultants and cloud experts to customer executives and board members. These sessions focus on the business outcomes delivered by cloud-based transformations and outline the business cases for these projects.

Alternatively, our Modernisation Blueprints look at how you can improve your applications to take advantage of new cloud services such as containers, micro-services and SaaS equivalent - amongst many other technologies. And it’s worth noting that our cost optimisations services help customers discover savings opportunities with their current cloud provider that, on average, reduces their cloud bill by 25%.

To find out more about how you can avoid making mistakes with your cloud transformation journey, get in touch with your account manager.

1ISG, December 2020, Planning a Robust OCM.