Migrating Your Business To A Cloud? Here Are Five Mistakes You Need To Be Wary Of

When transitioning to the cloud, what started out as an easy and familiar project can suddenly turn into a nightmare. These are some common mistakes that you can avoid.

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Picture this scenario: you hear about the benefits of the cloud, and you are then sold on its promise of saving cost, enabling agility, and fostering innovation. You get the buy in from your peers, as well as the go-ahead from management to proceed with migration. Some in your team will be excited, others will be worried, but you think, what could go wrong, it’s just another IT project, after all. 

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But despite the enthusiasm with which you kick off the project, you find yourself discovering roadblocks down the line. You soon realize you are running two parallel environments- you cannot proceed as you envisioned, and you cannot roll it back either. What started out as an easy and familiar project suddenly turns into a nightmare.  

What I have laid out above is just an imaginary situation, but rest assured that it’s often a very real problem that many businesses find themselves in once they undertake a cloud migration process. If you don’t want yours to fall in a similar boat, here are the five common mistakes that you need to avoid so as to ensure a fast and smooth transition:   

1. Don’t see it simply as a cure for your current data center woes Organizations who newly adopt the transition to the cloud get excited to be part of the trend, and forget to bridge the gap between the technical and business goals of the project, resulting in unclear objectives for the organization. Cloud adoption, in its essence, is not a good strategy, if it’s not aligned to serve a business goal. In the midst of all the excitement to get out of the data center, the need for indicators of success is unfortunately ignored. The cloud is like any other tool; to reap its benefits, you have to use it correctly. Bad cloud deployment can be more expensive than operating your IT in a classical on-premises data center. You might introduce performance and management headaches that aren't justified by any benefits. Having said that, the cloud should never be viewed as a cure for current data center woes, but a new way of consuming IT to serve your business goals. By transitioning to the cloud, organizations are moving beyond just IT. Cloud will introduce a new norm of thinking about operations. If your organization is not ready to adapt to a self-service, measured, and elastic way of doing things to leverage the power of the cloud fully, then the cloud might be more trouble than it’s worth. 

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2. Build it and they will come- well, don’t bet on that Did you know that many enterprise-wide cloud migrations get stalled at 25% completion? This is when the easy “lift-and-shift” part is done by rushing into a migration with a “build it and they will come” mindset . This approach often leads to frustration and disappointment. Legacy monolithic applications that need to be broken down before their operations can be transferred to the cloud can hinder your migration plans. The question is: do you want to spend millions of dollars to refactor for the cloud to end up with the same functionality? Although refactoring makes sense, it must consider and support business initiatives. Those initiatives always have their own timelines, thus changing your enthusiastic migration project from a sprint into a marathon. 

3. A mindset to keep things “as-is” isn’t going to work The move to the cloud should be empowered by capabilities and new ways of working. Thus, replicating your data center footprint “as-is” to the cloud is a shortsighted approach. Finding the right path of migration for each workload is key while assessing your cloud adoption strategy. Considering multiple migration paths like re-platforming, re-factoring, re-purchasing, or re-hosting strategies will definitely come back with greater return on your migration investments. A factory-like approach to identify repeatable patterns between different workloads can also significantly enhance your ROI.  

4. Don’t think of cloud migration as a “big bang” event for your organization Nearly two-thirds of companies aren’t achieving the benefits they expected from a cloud migration, as per research by Accenture. The main reason for this, according to the study, is the failure to define a cloud strategy that is geared to support the business strategy as well as capitalize on the cloud as a launchpad for innovation. Accordingly, approaching cloud migration as a "big bang event" will do little to no help for organizations to differentiate themselves from competition. 

Designing a cloud-first strategy from the inception to leverage the cloud’s potential will not only reduce cost, but also unleash significantly greater innovation, resiliency, and agility. The moral, therefore, is: “Before you set out on the journey, decide where you want to go.” 

5. It’s a journey, not a project Cloud migration is a journey, not a project. Post-migration planning is key to a successful cloud transition. This is a common cloud migration oversight with high financial and operational risks. Keeping up the momentum with continuous innovation might be very difficult if there is no plan in place. 

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Ali El Kontar

Written By

Seasoned entrepreneur and cloud technology expert Ali El Kontar is the founder and CEO of Zero&One, a cloud native services provider and native Amazon Web Services (AWS) consulting partner that leads complex technology projects across the Middle East and North Africa. Zero&One helps organizations through their digital transformation journeys by leveraging the cloud’s innovative capabilities to build new revenue streams, reduce costs, increase operational efficiency and agility, and deliver incredible customer experiences and engagement.   

The holder of a MBA from the American University of Beirut and a Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering, Ali has worked both in the MENA region and the USA leading private and public IT projects at major industry names including Orange Business Services and Cisco. Ali, an AWS Instructor Champion, has earned the coveted Amazon Partner Network (APN) Ambassador status, joining an elite, worldwide network as its first MENA representative. As an APN Ambassador, Ali is recognized as a skilled 10x AWS certified expert with a passion for sharing his AWS technical expertise and empowering MENA’s tech communities by conducting regular trainings, facilitating group meet-ups, and the publication of thought leadership materials, best practice guidance, and detailed technical write-ups.