Common Cloud Hurdles and How to Avoid Them

By John O’Shaughnessy, Infrastructure Architect and Senior Consultant

So, you’ve decided it’s time to move to the cloud! Great! Now what? What goes? Test/dev environments? Production? Disaster recovery? New applications? Big applications? Small applications? Everything? How do you decide?

According to a recent IDG Survey, “The Challenge of Change: IT in Transition,” 72% of IT leaders rank determining which workloads should move to the cloud among their list of the four major hurdles to cloud implementation nearly tied with the need for new tools to support and monitor cloud applications (70%), internal resistance to change (70%), and choosing cloud deployment models (69%). 

As the Cloud + Data Center Transformation division of Insight, these survey results reflect the greatest priorities — and concerns — we find within our customer base. Three to five years ago, the conversation centered around the question: “Should we move to the cloud?” However, today, the conversation begins, “We already know we need to move to the cloud, but how do we get to the cloud?” At Insight, we’ve long focused on helping clients determine the most effective destination for their workloads and infrastructure.

Workload selection — it all begins with a map

Making the move to public cloud can be a challenging endeavor, especially for organizations with a large and complex portfolio of business-critical workloads. The key to determining the most suitable destination for your workloads is to create a detailed workload portfolio map, which begins with a structured inventory of all the workloads in use in your enterprise. 

The inventory should include key information, such as:

  • Workload name
  • Primary users
  • Criticality to the business
  • Key technologies used to support the workload
  • Data classification requirements
  • Security requirements
  • Workload dependencies
Analysis of the data will help you determine prioritization of migrations, as well as what type of migration option (rehost, refactor, replace, etc.) makes sense according to your workload. 

Tools of the trade — monitoring and managing in the cloud

Well-run IT organizations rely on a suite of tools and techniques to efficiently manage their IT workloads and infrastructure. Clients often ask us for advice on how their tools and processes may need to change to monitor and support public cloud environments. 

For example, a common concern surrounds the increased complexity required to support a new environment when the goal of moving to public cloud is enhanced speed and agility of IT. To avoid increasing the complexity of managing your environment, it is important to thoroughly understand the information required to properly support your business (tip: just because a metric can be monitored, doesn’t mean it should be monitored). We work with our clients to understand and document their current tools and procedures, and then compare the benefits of gathering the same information from a public cloud environment. Only after documenting a clear set of requirements do we shift to reviewing the tools and support processes that best fit the client’s needs for both their existing on-premises and new public cloud environments. Our expertise identifies the most effective tools and processes required to monitor, manage, and support workloads in a public cloud. 

Internal resistance to change — converting fear to excitement

Another common hurdle to overcome in implementing public could is the fear of change from internal IT staff. Initially, many perceive the move to public cloud as similar to outsourcing; people are concerned that their jobs are at risk of displacement with a move to the cloud. But, a move to integrate public cloud as another component of a well-rounded IT environment is, in fact, an exciting growth opportunity for IT practitioners. It's important to develop and share cloud migration roadmaps that clearly identify how roles may evolve throughout such a transition; training in the new technologies required for successful cloud implementations can help to build that excitement — and alleviate unease — as public cloud plans are developed within the organization. We assist clients in delivering skills assessments and training plans, ensuring both a successful public cloud implementation strategy and employee engagement, excitement, and expertise. 

IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS — choosing the right cloud deployment model

IT leaders often struggle in deciding which cloud deployment model is appropriate for their workloads. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is most similar to existing in-house IT infrastructure, with virtual machines, installation and support of operating systems, virtual firewalls, load balancers, etc. (and remains client responsibility in the public cloud environment). Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a set of offerings from the public cloud provider that provide a service and its underlying infrastructure, such as a Structured Query Language (SQL) database. Finally, Software as a Service (SaaS) is a fully outsourced offering with the complete application, underlying services (such as databases), and all associated infrastructure developed and maintained by a third party. An outsourced payroll service is a common example of a PaaS offering.

Clients with applications developed in house are best able to benefit from PaaS if they have the ability to modify their applications to take advantage of the services offered by a cloud provider. Migrations to an IaaS environment are often the fastest way to get to the cloud, but IaaS is often seen as a first step — with introduction of PaaS features connected via microservices being a logical expansion into a fully cloud-enabled workload. We see SaaS workloads as the best option when applications are not core to the business, or when interfaces between the potential SaaS and internal applications are well-defined and relatively static in nature.

Cloud implementations — let Insight guide you to your destination

Our team of experts can help you overcome the hurdles identified in the 2018 IDG Survey of IT Leaders — and make smart decisions in cloud strategy. Understanding your organization’s workload portfolio is a key first step to mapping out your journey to the public cloud. We have helped many clients better understand their requirements, and further, positioned them for success as they integrate public cloud services into their organizations.