Moving your data to the cloud may seem like a necessity. But there are cloud migration considerations you need to factor into your business case for such a major project.
As a consultant in the area, I have come across many cases where clients believe the migration of mission-critical data to the cloud is a requirement. But in my experience, there are instances where staying on-premise is just as valid, if not preferable.
Using cloud services is definitely an option, and as with any option in the IT landscape, it has its own benefits, reasons, pros and cons. Read on to understand more about cloud migration considerations when moving data to cloud hosting services.
Cloud Hosting Means Giving Up Some Rights
Subscriptions and contracts with each cloud service provider come with their own unique terms and conditions.
No matter how secure, you will be relinquishing some control of your data when hosting with a cloud service provider.
So consider the terms, conditions and regulations carefully. You may find factors that are deal breakers for the mission-critical data currently within your control. This is particularly applicable where data sovereignty requirements come into play.
Not Appropriate for ALL Use Cases
The cloud services model doesn’t necessarily work well for every use case.
In particular systems with very predictable and consistent workloads that are well optimised may cost less to run on-premise.
Adopting private cloud technologies and implementing automation processes to support these on-premise environments, can substantially reduce the operating costs of on-premise. Therefore, it makes sense to save on the cost of cloud migration and just keep them on-premise.
If your existing platforms are meeting your business requirements there is no need to change for the sake of change.
Security Risks of Storing Data in the Cloud
When moving mission-critical data to the cloud, businesses need to consider the level of security each cloud service (such as Amazon and Azure) can provide.
Regardless of what your individual needs and wants are, you will ultimately need to accept whatever security methodologies and tooling that comes with that particular provider, or look to implement an extension of your on-premise security platform.
Between different providers, and even services within a provider, data and database security can be implemented in many different ways.
While some cloud database services may appear to be very cheap to consume, beware of what security features are available. A key point being that data encryption at rest does not mean database security at rest.
Providers may change Fees, Terms and Conditions
The tech industry is arguably the fastest evolving industry in the world, and this is an issue for cloud migration considerations.
Keep in mind that cloud service subscriptions are just that – a subscription that potentially terminates at the end of the agreed period. While the business case for a cloud migration may stand up today – this may not be the situation should there be changes in pricing or service offerings at the time of renewal.
Any cloud business case should consider transition out costs at the end of the subscription period to accurately calculate total cost of ownership.
By storing mission-critical data with a cloud service provider, you are ultimately trusting them to make decisions that won’t harm your business.
Network Connectivity Costs
Do not under-estimate the requirement for stable, high bandwidth, low latency network connections between your corporate data centre and cloud provider.
In fact you can assume that you will need some form of direct connection to deliver the above network requirements.
If your on-premise infrastructure does not have access to cloud service points of presence in your data centre, then take a careful look at what is required to connect from your data centre to a cloud service provider point of presence.
Costs may rise substantially if your cloud direct connections need to go via multiple data centre service providers.
Depending on the complexity and duration of your cloud migration, direct connect may need to be in place for a reasonably long period of time – if not ongoing.
If your cloud strategy is hybrid it may make sense to review any co-location agreements and partner with a data centre provider who can provide direct connect access via their cloud exchange.
Training & Skills Competency
Migrating on-premise applications and databases to a cloud service provider will undoubtedly result in changes to skill sets and work practices.
Team members who have strong levels of competence in on-premise technologies will need to adapt not only to new technologies and processes but new ways of thinking on how to operate and manage a cloud or hybrid environment.
Complex on-premise systems can require high levels of specialisation within a particular technology area. This same specialisation on-premise may not require much awareness or understanding of supporting technologies.
While there may be opportunities for deep specialisation within cloud services – we would argue that it is critical to have an understanding of supporting technologies in a cloud environment.
For example on-premise database administrators who are very highly specialised in a particular database management platform may not have a strong understanding of network security fundamentals.
In a cloud environment it is critical to have an understanding of the security framework that is protecting your organisations data.
Lack of understanding around cloud security, cost, and configuration models can have major cost and risk consequences if they are not understood by the people tasked with running these environments.
Beneficial Cloud Migration Considerations
So far, we’ve covered a lot of reasons that a business may choose to re-think their cloud migration plans. Some of these reasons may be deal breakers when it comes to adopting certain cloud services.
It’s not all bad news however. While these are all valid issues none of them are insurmountable or can’t be addressed with adequate planning.
In many cases it will be the intangible benefits of adopting a cloud strategy that will deliver much higher returns over the long run.
We cover off many of the benefits of a cloud migration in my blog: 10 Cloud Migration Benefits to Build Your Business case.