How to Keep Your Cloud Migration Initiative From Becoming a Bad Trip to Hotel California
By Larry Gentry, President & CEO, cStor
Most CEOs and CFOs believe the public cloud is either pure nirvana, or the devil incarnate, depending on who you ask, and exactly where they are in their journey on migrating to the cloud.
On the surface, a consumption-based model for IT infrastructure and software, like electricity or water, sounds great. No capital upfront, save your cash and pay as you consume. It certainly makes a lot of sense, and while it can and it does make good sense for certain applications, there are many pitfalls that you need to be aware of so you can avoid the surprise costs that can quickly sneak up on you.
What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You (and Drain Your Budget)
So where do most companies go wrong? What are the mistakes they make?
Let’s start with shadow IT: the departments who procure their own Cloud IT without approval from the C-suite, mostly because they feel IT is too slow or simply ill-equipped to keep up with their demands. They almost always spend more than they should because they are not IT experts. They don’t typically pay as much attention to the costs because they don’t fully understand them.
All they want is the service, and they often forget to stop the services once they are finished with the resource. I will leave that kind of ‘budget drainage’ topic for another post altogether.
The truth is, most companies spend more than they expected for cloud and cloud migration because they have a fundamental lack of expertise in utilizing this thing called cloud. That’s not a jab by any means. Amazingly bright people run these organizations — highly talented CEOs, CFOs and CIOs.
In their traditional business models, they are brilliant and highly capable of getting the right solution at the right cost. But this public cloud is still very new and few organizations have real experience utilizing it, or more importantly, doing so properly.
Not Every Application Can or Should Run in the Cloud.
Take for example a large national organization we know who had just recruited a new CEO and CFO, both of whom decided together that they should stop buying infrastructure and put all of the organization’s applications into the two largest public cloud providers.
Flash forward two years later, and now that large national company is desperately trying to get out of both clouds, which combined are costing them nearly 45% more than they anticipated. Unfortunately, they can’t get out anytime soon because in their contracts they did not negotiate an exit. Like many, they failed to understand all the requirements of public cloud such as firewalls, second copies, DR, security, recovery time objectives, speed of removing data, and of course, exit clauses!
An insightful colleague of mine recently confided in me that most of the C-suite executives he knows have exceeded their cloud migration costs largely due to arrogance.
“I’m smart, I’m in charge, I’ve negotiated contracts so I can do this too.”
I would describe it as smart people that are not yet educated or an expert enough to be smart on this particular topic.
The smartest business people I know are smart enough to know precisely when they aren’t an expert and when to get expert help. And frankly, when it comes to the labyrinth of navigating your migration to the cloud, that’s what every company should do: don’t be too proud to get some help from experts who have done this before.
How Cloud Migration Experts Help Save You Valuable Time and Resources
Experts can help you negotiate your exit clause, even with large public cloud providers, before you put one byte of data in a public cloud. Experts can also help you identify exactly which applications are the right ones to run in the public cloud because not all of them are.
Here are a few more key tips to consider before you move existing applications to the public cloud:
- Negotiate costs to exit and timeframe, how, you will get your data back before you place it in a public cloud provider.
- Utilize at least two public cloud providers so you have more flexibility, power, control and potential performance and/or cost benefits.
- Wake up call: be sure you fully understand how you will secure your data, it is your responsibility. You typically can obtain security through the cloud provider, however, it can be expensive. Be sure to confirm if your existing security software and processes work in a cloud environment. All of the cloud provider contracts say they are not responsible for data loss.
- Applications like mainframe, older homegrown applications or steady-state (slow growth) applications should not be run in the public cloud as they have will likely have performance issues or will be far more cost-effective to run on-premise.
- Virtualization makes moving applications easy but ensures you have a data management platform that allows you to easily move your data where it makes the most sense, anytime you want.
It’s important to find a trusted, experienced partner to get the expertise you need to avoid the disappointment of realizing you didn’t save any money.
Or worse yet, you and your entire management team end up feeling like you’re at Hotel California… you can check out… but your data can never leave.