3 Cloud Migration Risks and How to Avoid Them Successfully

The future is in the cloud. With each passing year, more companies are migrating their apps and data from legacy, on-premise data centers to cloud-based storage. If done strategically, a cloud migration can strengthen cybersecurity, increase cost savings, and provide a flexible, scalable and agile solution. But for that, you must account for significant cloud migration risks.  

So what are the risks of cloud adoption? 

This guide will cover the common hazards of cloud implementation and propose migration strategies you can deploy to avoid them.  

What Is a Cloud Migration? 

Cloud migration is the process of moving an organization’s IT infrastructure from on-premise server facilities to remote data hosting servers and virtual processing spaces. Cloud-based data storage services are typically hosted in one of three environments: 

  1. Public cloud – A third-party vendor hosts the data on a remote server over the public internet, which is then accessible via web browsers, such as: 
    • Google Cloud
    • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
    • Microsoft Azure
  1. Private cloud – The cloud resources are utilized and owned by a single organization, improving control and security. The cloud may be hosted in an on-site data center or by a remote provider.
  1. Hybrid cloud – As the name suggests, a hybrid model fuses the public and private cloud capabilities. This grants an organization more flexibility to select the optimal cloud computing environment for each workload. 

What model your business selects depends on your industry requirements and specific operational needs. Every cloud environment will have its own security and migration challenges. With that said, typical benefits of the cloud model include: 

  • Reduced IT costs
  • Better business agility and scalability
  • Enhanced security
  • Regulatory compliance for sensitive data 
  • Data center consolidation
  • Growth acceleration
  • Simplified management
  • Backup, recovery and failover
  • Optimized legacy applications   

What Are the Potential Cloud Costs? 

Although businesses may trend toward the cloud, not every enterprise that makes the switch winds up feeling content with its decision. In fact, a 2019 survey of more than 1,000 senior IT and business execs found that nearly one in three businesses failed to capture notable benefits from their cloud computing.

Moving to the cloud can provide tremendous advantages. But it’s not a decision that you should make flippantly. Instead, you need to plan ahead and thoroughly understand the common pitfalls that lead to dissatisfaction. 

Let’s review the three most common risks you must prepare for in cloud migration.  

Risk #1: No Clear Migration Roadmap  

Switching to the cloud is an enticing prospect, especially when you hear about the myriad potential advantages other companies are experiencing. But if you dive in without a clear game plan, you increase the likelihood that the infrastructure will break. 

For instance, selecting an unsuitable cloud environment could result in significant issues. 

And, if you drill down further, there are even more complicated questions like:

  • Will you use a single cloud provider or several platforms?
  • What data, apps or systems will you send to the cloud and what will remain in local data storage?

Avoiding This Risk 

A word to the wise—don’t be hasty. Just because others are switching to the cloud doesn’t mean scrambling after them immediately is wise. At the very least, check your landing first. 

Take the time to think the situation through and consider why you want to switch. Questions you should ask include: 

  • Why should we migrate to the cloud?
  • What benefits do we hope to gain? 
  • Are compliance regulations dictating whether data needs to be virtual or local? 
  • Is there mission-critical data that must remain on-site? 
  • What data do you have, and how much of it do you plan to migrate? 
  • What are your storage requirements? 
  • Will you use one or several cloud providers? 

Breezing past these questions could lead to costly mistakes that may have been avoidable with proper planning and foresight. Gartner strongly recommends that you also create a cloud risk model based on agility, availability, security, supplier and compliance. 

Risk #2: Potential Data Loss 

Cloud migration involves transferring data from one location to another. 

Any time you move data, there’s a chance that something could go wrong (like human error, power outages, natural disasters, security breaches, etc.), resulting in corrupted, missing or incomplete data. Simply put, data may not migrate correctly (or at all). 

No matter the circumstance, data loss during the migration process could be disastrous, directly impacting your ability to operate. This could, in turn, result in extended downtime, lost revenue, a loss of consumer confidence and even unintentional compliance violations.   

Avoiding the Risk 

You can’t assume the migration will go off without a hitch. Instead, you must install strategies that prevent or at least mitigate the potential damages of data loss. Hope for the best and plan for the worst. 

To that end, possible data loss mitigation actions include: 

  • Backing up your data is the most important step you could take. You must backup your data in case an error occurs in the migration process. That way, should a disaster strike, you can still restore the original data and applications. 
  • Testing the data migration process – You can’t possibly predict how data, apps and systems will react to migration, especially if they’re fractured across a complex IT environment. You can determine whether the permanent solution will work by slowly testing the migration process. 
  • Moving data in smaller chunks – Instead of moving terabytes of data in one fell swoop, it’s much wiser to move it incrementally. That way, only a part of the system will be impacted if something goes wrong. 
  • Establishing a failover process – If the worst happens, what then? Do you have a plan in place? You should have a general cloud migration strategy for actions you will take should data loss or data corruption crop up, such as returning to the previous state.  

Risk #3: Cloud Security Risks 

While transitioning from on-premise data storage and processing to a virtual setup can result in a heightened cybersecurity posture, it doesn’t eliminate your security concerns—it just changes the threat profile. As IT Pro Portal notes: 

“Moving data to the cloud introduces a slew of security concerns, such as compliance violations, contractual breaches, unsecured APIs, provider difficulties, misconfigured servers, malware, external assaults, unintentional errors, insider threats and so on.” 

Many companies fail to understand that a cloud service provider will not manage security or compliance on their behalf. Instead, that responsibility falls on you. Although there will likely still be threats after the migration is complete, the data will be most vulnerable during the data migration process.  

Avoiding the Risk 

Generally speaking, the cloud is more secure than premise-based enterprise infrastructure. However, the primary issue is that many companies—particularly SMBs—lack the time, resources or know-how to stay ahead of cloud-specific security and compliance concerns. 

Ideally, the company’s IT leaders can minimize these risks by implementing robust cloud usage and data protection policies. For instance, you can take actionable steps to combat internal and external security threats, including:

  • Encrypting your data
  • Configuring firewalls
  • Using concepts like the principle of least privilege to restrict unauthorized access

However, if you don’t have the requisite expertise or capabilities to take such measures, it would be wise to partner with a managed IT services provider. An experienced MSP can guide you through the migration process while installing measures to bolster your cybersecurity perimeter.  

Helixstorm—The Leading Provider of Managed IT Services

Migrating to the cloud can reduce maintenance costs, increase security and improve business operations and efficiency. But only if you properly account for the cloud migration risks involved with such a massive endeavor. 

Cloud migration can be an incredibly complicated process. With so much on the line, you shouldn’t do it on your own. That’s where we come in. At Helixstorm, we can help you migrate your workloads to cloud infrastructure quickly and effectively. 

To ensure the process is seamless, we take the following steps: 

  1. Assess your current IT environment
  2. Design an application migration plan
  3. Perform a test run
  4. Migrate your application 
  5. Optimize and manage the application 

Do you want to future-proof your applications? 
If you’re interested in end-to-end cloud migration support and expertise, check out our professional IT services today.