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10 Cloud Migration Challenges to Understand

Sujatha R

Embracing the cloud is no longer just a trend—it’s a necessity for businesses seeking to stay agile, cost-efficient, and competitive. As more organizations recognize the advantages of cloud computing, the migration to cloud environments has accelerated. The cloud migration market size is estimated at USD 232.51 billion in 2024, and is expected to reach USD 806.41 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 28.24%.

However, this rapid adoption also brings its set of challenges. Developing a comprehensive cloud migration strategy requires accounting for business goals and existing systems. In this article, we will discuss the common cloud migration challenges that organizations face and how to overcome them.

Summary

  1. Conducting an assessment of existing infrastructure and applications before the cloud migration process is an important step in identifying potential issues and choosing the right strategy.

  2. Application modernization and refactoring are necessary to ensure cloud compatibility, improve efficiency, and take advantage of the full potential of cloud computing.

  3. With robust security measures to safeguard sensitive data, flexible and transparent pricing, and partnerships with cloud migration specialists, DigitalOcean is a strong option for companies migrating to the cloud.

💡“Our hosting costs have decreased by over 90% and we’re running at about 25% of our capacity allowing us to quickly scale.” - Jamie Druce, Senior Web Developer, Content Ignite.

Content Ignite is a native advertising platform based in the United Kingdom that successfully migrated to DigitalOcean.

10 cloud migration challenges to understand

The cloud migration process is complex and demands careful planning and execution. Despite the numerous benefits of cloud computing, organizations often face challenges throughout the migration process. Here are ten challenges to be watchful of and strategies to mitigate them:

1. Infrastructure compatibility and dependency issues

One of the biggest challenges organizations face when migrating to the cloud is ensuring compatibility between their existing infrastructure, applications, and the target cloud environment. This challenge exists for organizations that migrate from self-hosting as well as migrating from other cloud service providers. Many legacy systems, custom applications, and third-party software were not designed with cloud computing in mind, which can lead to compatibility issues, dependencies, and complexities that hinder the migration process.

To address this challenge, organizations must conduct a thorough assessment of their current infrastructure and applications before starting their cloud migration journey. This crucial step involves the following two major processes

  1. Evaluate current infrastructure and software to pinpoint likely incompatibilities, dependencies, and intricacies that may obstruct the transition workflow.

  2. Determine the appropriate strategy and follow the cloud migration best practices based on the assessment findings. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work, as each organization’s needs, workloads, and existing setups are unique. Some may opt for a lift-and-shift approach, while others may require refactoring or re-architecting their applications for the cloud.

By conducting a comprehensive readiness assessment, organizations can map out the terrain, prepare adequately, and choose the right path forward, streamlining the migration process, minimizing disruptions, and ensuring a smoother transition to the cloud environment.

2. Cost optimization complexities

One of the significant challenges organizations face when migrating to the cloud is optimizing costs and navigating the intricate pricing structures of cloud service providers. Cloud providers, particularly hyperscaler cloud providers, often have intricate pricing models that can include hidden costs for data egress, storage, and other services. These complexities make it difficult to accurately estimate and predict cloud expenses.

Additionally, inefficient resource allocation, such as overprovisioning or underutilizing cloud resources, can lead to unnecessary costs and wastage. Furthermore, without proper cloud monitoring and cost management tools, organizations may struggle to gain visibility into their cloud spend, hampering their ability to identify areas for cloud cost optimization.

To overcome these cost optimization complexities and to avoid bill shock, organizations should utilize the cloud provider tools to gain granular visibility into cloud spend and identify optimization opportunities. Implementing best practices such as rightsizing instances, leveraging reserved instances or spot instances, and automating resource scaling based on demand can also contribute to cost savings. Continuously monitoring and analyzing cloud usage patterns is crucial for making data-driven decisions and identifying areas for cost optimization. Moreover, fostering a culture of cost-awareness within the organization can ensure that teams understand the financial implications of their cloud resource utilization, further promoting cost-effective practices.

3. Data security and compliance concerns

When migrating to the cloud, ensuring data security and maintaining compliance with industry regulations are critical concerns, as the transition can expose sensitive data to new vulnerabilities and necessitate adherence to different, sometimes more stringent, security standards that the cloud provider must meet. Failure to do so can result in costly data breaches, cloud compliance risks, regulatory fines, and damage to your company’s reputation. Migrating critical data and workloads to the cloud requires a comprehensive approach to tackling security risks, including robust access controls, encryption mechanisms, and adherence to regulatory compliance standards.

Organizations should evaluate their cloud service provider’s security protocols, data protection policies, and compliance certifications to ensure they align with their specific industry requirements and data sensitivity levels. Implementing cloud security best practices and cloud monitoring tools is essential for maintaining vigilance against potential threats and vulnerabilities in the cloud environment.

Security audits, security incident response planning, and ongoing employee training on cloud security best practices are vital components of a successful cloud migration strategy that prioritizes data security and compliance.

4. Obstacles in cloud infrastructure transitions

For organizations migrating to the cloud, designing an optimal cloud infrastructure presents a significant challenge. This process involves several critical decisions that can make or break the success of the cloud migration initiative. Failure to address the cloud infrastructure planning challenges during the design phase can lead to suboptimal performance, inefficient resource utilization, escalating costs, and potential operational disruptions, ultimately undermining the very benefits that prompted the move to the cloud.

For companies moving to the cloud for the first time from self-hosting their own infrastructure, the challenge lies in choosing the right cloud service provider from the array of options available. Each provider offers varying capabilities, pricing models, and service offerings, making it difficult to determine the best fit for their specific requirements, workloads, and budget constraints. On the other hand, organizations transitioning from one cloud provider to another face the challenge of ensuring compatibility and seamless integration with their existing infrastructure and applications. Regardless of the scenario, the core challenge remains the same: designing a scalable, cost-effective, and high-performing cloud infrastructure that meets the organization’s current and future needs.

To overcome these challenges, organizations must invest significant time and effort into meticulous cloud infrastructure planning and design. This includes conducting thorough assessments of their workloads, performance requirements, and scalability needs, as well as collaborating closely with cloud experts and service providers to ensure a tailored solution that aligns with their specific business objectives. By addressing the cloud infrastructure planning and design challenges proactively, organizations can lay the groundwork for a seamless migration, maximize the benefits of scalability, cost-efficiency, and high availability that the cloud promises, and position themselves for long-term success in the cloud environment.

💡Hyperscaler cloud providers aren’t your only options; the market is rich with user-friendly AWS alternatives and Azure alternatives that offer transparent pricing and exceptional customer support. For SMBs seeking a cloud that aligns with their needs, DigitalOcean is the cloud of choice, with straightforward pricing, robust customer service, and a community-centric environment that demystifies cloud technology.

Migrate to DigitalOcean today.

5. Application compatibility problems

Migrating to the cloud often poses compatibility challenges where organizations find it difficult to ensure compatibility between their existing applications and the cloud environment. This compatibility challenge can manifest in various ways. Monolithic application architectures, tightly coupled dependencies, and reliance on specific hardware or infrastructure configurations can make it difficult to seamlessly transition these applications to the cloud. Furthermore, legacy applications may not be optimized to leverage the elasticity, auto-scaling, and pay-as-you-go pricing models offered by cloud service providers, limiting the potential benefits of cloud migration.

To overcome this challenge, organizations must undertake the process of application modernization and refactoring. The modernization process involves decoupling monolithic applications into smaller and more manageable components. The refactoring process involves restructuring the code for better understandability and readability. By doing so, organizations can take advantage of the scalability, resiliency, and agility that the cloud offers.

Containerization and microservices architecture are also powerful tools in the application modernization process. Containerization allows applications to be packaged with their dependencies, ensuring consistent deployment across different environments. Microservices, on the other hand, break down monolithic applications into smaller, independent services that can be developed, deployed, and scaled independently, promoting agility and flexibility.

Leveraging cloud-native services and features is another critical component of application modernization. Cloud service providers offer a wide range of managed cloud services, such as serverless computing, managed databases, and AI/ML platforms, which can improve application functionality, performance, and scalability. By embracing these cloud-native offerings, organizations can focus on their core business logic while offloading undifferentiated heavy lifting to the cloud provider.

Application modernization and refactoring may seem daunting, but it is a necessary step in maximizing cloud migration benefits. By modernizing applications, organizations can future-proof their technology stack, improve operational efficiency, and ultimately deliver better user experiences and business outcomes in the cloud.

6. Data migration and integration hurdles

Transferring vast amounts of data from the existing systems to the cloud environment is a critical task, as even minor errors or inconsistencies can have severe consequences for data quality, business operations, and decision-making processes. A minor misstep in the migration process can result in data corruption, inconsistencies, security vulnerabilities, and operational inefficiencies. Data integrity issues can lead to inaccurate analysis, flawed decision-making, and potential compliance violations, undermining the very benefits that prompted the move to the cloud in the first place. This challenge is further compounded by the need for seamless integration between cloud-based and on-premises systems in hybrid cloud environments, where certain workloads and data remain on-premises while others are migrated to the cloud.

To carefully tread this path, organizations must implement robust data validation, error handling, and backup mechanisms to maintain data quality throughout the migration process. Additionally, they must establish secure and reliable connectivity among the cloud environments, ensuring data synchronization and implementing appropriate access controls for seamless hybrid cloud management.

Effective data migration and integration are crucial not only for ensuring business continuity during the cloud transition but also for unlocking opportunities for enhanced data analytics, real-time insights, and improved decision-making capabilities. By consolidating data from multiple sources into a unified cloud environment, organizations can leverage advanced analytics tools and techniques to gain valuable insights and drive informed business decisions.

7. Network and connectivity bottlenecks

Many cloud-based applications and services rely heavily on network resources, and even minor latency or bandwidth issues can significantly impact user experience, application responsiveness, and overall operational efficiency. This challenge arises due to several factors.

First, the distributed nature of cloud environments introduces potential network bottlenecks, as data and traffic flow across vast distances and multiple nodes. Latency-sensitive applications, such as real-time data processing, video streaming, or online gaming, are particularly vulnerable to network performance issues, which can severely degrade the user experience. Second, the migration of data-intensive workloads to the cloud can strain existing network infrastructure, leading to bandwidth constraints and throughput limitations. As organizations move large volumes of data to the cloud, they must ensure that their network bandwidth can handle the increased traffic demands without compromising application performance or data transfer speeds.

To navigate these challenges, organizations can optimize network performance and network latency, especially for latency-sensitive applications and large data transfers. They must assess strategies to minimize latency, such as leveraging CDNs or deploying cloud resources closer to end-users. Implementing secure and reliable connectivity between on-premises and cloud environments is also essential, often involving virtual private cloud or cloud provider networking services. This ensures data security and seamless integration across hybrid environments.

While moving to the cloud, addressing network bandwidth and throughput requirements is vital to prevent performance bottlenecks and maintain optimal application performance in the cloud. Organizations must accurately evaluate their current and projected bandwidth needs based on user counts, data volumes, and workloads.

8. Organizational change management

While the technical aspects of cloud migration are complex, the human element is equally crucial for success. Adopting cloud technologies often requires a fundamental shift in business processes, workflows, and employee skill sets. Resistance to change, lack of buy-in, and a reluctance to embrace new ways of working can pose significant challenges during the migration. Aligning business processes and workflows with the new cloud adoption process is essential to maximize operational efficiency and avoid disruptions.

Investing in comprehensive training programs, certifications, and knowledge-sharing initiatives can empower employees and facilitate a smoother transition. Fostering a cloud-centric culture means cultivating a mindset that embraces agility, innovation, and continuous improvement. Encouraging cross-functional collaboration, promoting experimentation, and celebrating successes can drive widespread adoption and empower teams to fully leverage the cloud’s potential.

9. Lack of effective cloud governance

Migrating to the cloud introduces new governance challenges related to adhering to organizational standards, regulatory compliance, and risk mitigation. One key challenge lies in the lack of clear roles and responsibilities, which can lead to chaotic cloud resource provisioning and management, potentially resulting in security risks, compliance violations, and unnecessary costs. Additionally, the absence of approval workflows and budgetary controls can lead to teams provisioning and consuming cloud resources indiscriminately, leading to cost overruns and potential compliance issues. Furthermore, failure to establish and enforce consistent policies and procedures around resource provisioning, data retention, and security protocols can lead to inconsistencies, vulnerabilities, and operational inefficiencies.

To address these governance challenges, organizations should follow the best cloud governance practices such as defining clear roles and responsibilities for cloud resource management, security, and compliance. Establishing approval workflows and budgetary controls helps ensure that cloud resource consumption aligns with organizational priorities and budgets. Implementing standardized policies and procedures for resource provisioning, data retention, security protocols, and other cloud operations can promote consistency and mitigate risks. By establishing effective cloud governance, organizations can mitigate risks, ensure regulatory compliance, and maintain control over their cloud deployments.

10. Monitoring and incident management

Cloud migration introduces new complexities in monitoring and incident management that can pose significant challenges for organizations. The dynamic and distributed nature of cloud-based infrastructure, coupled with the increased reliance on third-party cloud service providers, can make it challenging to maintain visibility and control over the entire IT ecosystem. Without a comprehensive cloud monitoring and logging strategy, organizations may struggle to identify security threats, and potential service disruptions.

Implementing comprehensive cloud monitoring and logging solutions is essential for gaining real-time visibility into application performance, resource utilization, and potential security threats. By collecting and analyzing log data, organizations can proactively identify and address issues before they escalate, ensuring continuous availability and optimal performance. Developing a strong security incident response and disaster recovery plans is also critical for minimizing downtime and mitigating the impact of potential incidents or outages. These plans should outline clear communication protocols, define roles and responsibilities, and provide step-by-step procedures for incident resolution and data recovery. Regular drills validate the effectiveness of these plans and ensure readiness for unexpected events.

Organizations should closely track and analyze the essential cloud metrics, through which they can proactively identify potential issues, implement preventive measures, and swiftly respond to incidents, ensuring that their cloud-based systems remain highly available and performant.

Unlock the power of DigitalOcean’s cloud solutions

Numerous startups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMBs) have embraced DigitalOcean’s cost-effective cloud infrastructure to fuel their growth. If you’re seeking cost savings, enhanced scalability, or improved operational efficiency, migrating to DigitalOcean could be the strategic move your business needs. Here’s why:

  • Migration support. DigitalOcean partners with cloud migration experts like CTO.ai, Bunnyshell, Stablepoint, and WPMU DEV to assist organizations considering cloud migration. These partners offer the tools and expertise necessary to ensure a seamless transition of your cloud infrastructure.

  • Transparent pricing and cost-effective offerings. Compared to hyperscaler cloud service providers, DigitalOcean’s simplified pricing structure empowers you to accurately forecast expenses and manage your cloud migration costs effectively.

  • Robust security measures. DigitalOcean implements advanced security features and protocols to safeguard your sensitive data against potential threats, providing you with peace of mind.

  • 24/7 support and comprehensive documentation. DigitalOcean’s round-the-clock customer support team is available to address your technical questions and concerns. Additionally, an extensive library of documentation, tutorials, and community resources is at your disposal for further learning and understanding.

Embrace the power of DigitalOcean’s cloud solutions to propel your business towards its technical and business objectives. Explore migration options and connect with a migration expert today.

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