Cloud modernization has become the primary route to digital transformation for private entities and is quickly becoming the preferred path for those in the public sphere. But that process holds many challenges that cut across both sectors and stand in the way of countless possible cloud benefits. To help smooth that modernization process for both businesses and government agencies, here are five cloud modernization challenges with the best means for overcoming them.

1. Developing A Cloud Strategy

One of the biggest challenges to cloud modernization is the first step of developing a cloud strategy. That means knowing what you need to gain from moving workloads to the cloud and understanding how that will affect your current IT infrastructure, processes, and people. This will form the basis of determining many of the steps that will follow in the move to the cloud.

Organizations use the cloud in a variety of different service models, so cloud strategies will look at how Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) may play into the ongoing cloud strategy. The basics of these three service models are as follows:

  • SaaS utilizes the internet to deliver applications, which are managed by a third-party vendor, to its users.
  • PaaS delivers a framework for developers that they can build upon and use to create customized applications.
  • IaaS delivers cloud computing infrastructure, including servers, network, operating systems, and storage, through virtualization technology.

Not every application and workload have the same security and access needs. A key part of a cloud strategy is factoring in the different needs of applications and workloads in the cloud. This may require using different clouds (public, private, hybrid) or multiple cloud providers for backup and disaster recovery among other specific needs.

The ideal scenario is to start with an audit of current systems, applications, and processes. This helps to steer the cloud strategy in terms of:

  • What to move to the cloud and why
  • When to move it
  • Where to move it
  • How to move it

For example, SaaS applications can perform the same tasks and workloads as their legacy counterparts without the challenges of escalating licensing costs, patching, and updates by internal IT.

2. Developing A Cloud Migration Strategy

Cloud migration is a challenging process that can take months to complete once

feasibility, strategic positioning, and destination have been determined. The process itself is determined by one of three primary categories that an application and its workloads will fall into:

  • Those applications which can be rehosted in the cloud without any rebuilding (lift and shift)
  • Those that must be optimized to take advantage of all the cloud has to offer
  • Those that require fundamental re-architecting (refactor) to take advantage of the cloud

Planning out your migration before you make the jump to the cloud is an essential part of the process where you must factor in cost analysis, projected downtime, employee training, and an estimated time to complete the migration. The best approach to a migration strategy is to start small with non-essential or redundant data first.

3. Optimizing Cloud Performance/ Security

Once applications and workloads are successfully moved to the cloud, it’s still an ongoing process to make sure they continue to work as they evolve and grow, which requires optimization. By 2020, 40 percent of organizations will have invested in automation, orchestration, and development life-cycle management of cloud-native applications to realize the cost benefits and operational efficiencies according to IDC.

Cloud security refers to a broad set of policies, technologies, and controls deployed to protect data, applications, and the associated infrastructure of cloud computing. While the use of a private cloud is often based on security and compliance needs (HIPAA, PCI etc.) they still bring security needs for data in transit (encryption), which also applies to some public cloud workloads.

Understanding cloud security needs and responsibilities is the first step in achieving security at all points and across time in a cloud strategy. Ultimately, public and private organizations may lack the expertise, tools, and personnel to fulfill all security needs, which can best be handled by a managed security services provider.

Cloud migration tools capable of mapping out security requirements for each application in business terms automates the process of matching, optimizing, and remapping how an application was run on internal servers. This includes all networks, sub-networks, resources, IP addresses, and security rules.

4. Controlling Cloud Spend

One of the biggest challenges of cloud modernization is controlling usage and costs. For example, moving workloads to the public cloud may initially save money, but as they grow, the costs increase. These workloads may need to be moved back to an in-house server/data center or different cloud (repatriation).

Cloud spending can get out of control with application development teams that don’t retire virtual servers that continue to accrue costs. Internal departments and teams may bypass IT and begin to use SaaS collaboration and productivity tools that IT is not tracking (shadow IT). Implementing cloud use governance policies that require IT spend approval and the use of DevOps support and planning can resolve these two issues.

5. Change Management Strategy

Cloud modernization brings numerous benefits to a public or private entity, but it also brings the challenge of changing the way that internal personnel work. Adapting to new processes and governance rules as well as the migration process itself can take a toll on a business without a clear change management strategy.

This serves to align people, processes, and technology with the business strategy so that personnel understand their role in the cloud modernization process. It also helps to inform and educate them on how the new paradigm will make their jobs easier, faster and more productive in the long run.

With careful planning and support, public and private entities can overcome the challenges inherent to cloud modernization and reap the benefits of increased productivity, flexibility, scalability, security, innovation and a stronger bottom line.