13 Things Your Cloud Provider Won’t Tell You
When is a Cloud not a Cloud and other Cloud facts you need to know
There are many marketing claims regarding the ease of migrating business applications and services to the Cloud. But, if it is so easy, why do so many Cloud migrations fail to go to plan. Some fail completely while others can drag on for months and may never reach a satisfactory conclusion.
I have compiled 13 potential gotchas that could stall a Cloud migration or present you with problems during operation. Your chosen Cloud provider may not tell you any of this during the sales process. They may not even be aware of some of these. However, they are very real.
1) Whether ‘the Cloud’ is actually a cloud
This is a subject that keep cropping up. There are three types of Cloud implementation, public, private and hybrid. They do not all offer the same benefits to a business. It is important to understand exactly what type of Cloud you are getting.
2) There may be issues with integration to other applications
Integration issues between different vendors’ software and services are relatively common. However, when part or all of your applications are moving to the Cloud integration between business applications may become significantly more challenging or may not be possible at all. Due consideration should be give to where each application resides along with any application or service dependencies for each business application.
3) Backups may not be readily available as and when required or within the contract price
When you need to restore a service due to loss of data or a system crash it is not the time to discover you need to log a ticket and wait for the system to be restored. Nor is this a good time for the process to be held up while someone decides who is going to pay. This is an area that is generally well documented. However, the implications for each application being down for one or more hours during your business day (bearing in mind some ‘business days’ are 24/7) are not always realised until the inevitable happens.
4) Your firewall may be shared with other companies and you may not be adequately protected
This may be rare but it is a problem I came across a while back. While analysing a problem on the Cloud facing Ethernet port on our customer’s link to a Cloud provider I noticed a lot of traffic for other businesses. When we questioned the provider about this we discovered our customer shared a firewall with several other businesses. Had the firewall been set up correctly that would not have been a problem. But, the firewall was misconfigured leaving several businesses in a vulnerable position.
5) What their real capability to scale up or down to meet your business needs are
Business IT systems need to be capable of responding to the business needs. Having the flexibility to scale up or down in line with business needs can be useful for some businesses. How quickly can your Cloud provider scale up to meet new demands? Are they also willing to scale down to enable you to control costs?
6) Where your data is located and who has access to it
You may have specific or even legislative requirements as to where your business data can be held and processed. This became critical for some organisations recently when the European Court of Justice ruling ended the Safe Harbor agreement which allowed the transfer of EU data to the US. It is essential to understand where your Cloud provider Data Centres are to ensure your systems comply with current legislation.
7) You may need to upgrade all of your software licenses when you migrate to the Cloud
Your existing software licenses may not be appropriate for the new environment. If this is the case, you will need to take software upgrades into consideration when planning your migration.
8) The real cost of the Cloud
Cloud is often quoted as being a cost saving. Often it is but there are also many potential costs associated with migrating your business systems into a Cloud environment that may be overlooked. These need to be taken into consideration when calculating your Return on Investment. These include: the time and resource required to prepare for the migration; engineering costs for migration; any impact on productivity during migration and through the first weeks or months; software licenses; and more.
9) Your applications are accessed through a single point of failure
Cloud is often sold as a highly resilient solution. If uptime is crucial to your business it is essential to understand the detail. Especially, how your business interfaces to the Cloud. Work with your chosen Cloud provider to identify any single points of failure and work with them to mitigate or at least understand the risk.
10) The bottlenecks you are likely to encounter
When you migrate to the Cloud your data and applications are going to be at the far end of a WAN link. This may be fundamentally different to how your original on premise systems operated. The change in topology may introduce bottlenecks which may be constant or appear at certain times of the day or night. It is important to understand your business traffic flows and the potential bottlenecks before you risk your entire business on the migration. Running a proof of concept will enable you to understand traffic flows for an individual user. This information can be provided to your chosen Cloud provider to enable them to accurately gauge bandwidth and processing requirements.
11) How to migrate all of your data and how to keep it secure in transit
Your business can be very vulnerable during the migration from on premise to a Cloud environment. The methods used to move your data from the on premise systems to the Cloud will be critical to the success of the migration and potentially to the operation and reputation of your business. Your operational data has to be backed up and then transferred from one location to another. Unless you have been in a position to pre-configure and build the new environment with the majority of the data leaving just an incremental backup to bring the Cloud environment on line There may not be sufficient time to migrate the data via the network which means data has to be physically transferred on a hard disk. Having to physically transport the data incurs far greater risk so it is essential it is secured in transit and plans are in place should the disks with the data be delayed or lost in transit.
12) Your users may need to be trained in new ways of working
Migrating to a Cloud environment often involves procedural changes. These can cause problems for users which inevitably impacts on productivity. Understanding the knowledge gap and providing timely training prior to the migration combined with additional user support following the migration will alleviate these problems.
13) What you need to do to change Cloud providers in the future
This question is rarely asked. But, what would you do if you had a disagreement with your Cloud provider and the relationship irreparably broke down? It is important to understand how easy or difficult it is to change Cloud providers in the future. Some businesses have become locked in to their vendors as it has become too costly to break away. It is better to understand the exit process at the outset.
This list is by no means exhaustive. If you would like to talk to one of our specialists about Cloud migration please call us on +44 (0)203 058 7770 or contact us using the form below.
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