Five Public Cloud Migration Mistakes to Avoid

Cloud technology has fundamentally transformed the way we do business, and companies increasingly recognize that they can’t stay competitive without it. According to Rightscale:

  • 95 percent of businesses are leveraging cloud technology
  • 85 percent currently have a multi-cloud strategy
  • 75 percent of enterprise workloads run in the cloud

Still, many organizations complicate their cloud efforts by making avoidable migration mistakes. Here are five DIY missteps we see a little too often. Avoiding them will help ensure your cloud experience is about efficiency, innovation and added value — not unnecessary problem-solving.

Migrating the wrong apps

Even now, many organizations migrate applications that aren’t ready for cloud infrastructure, and they often move those applications first. This can do critical damage — you should never have to stage a surgical intervention just to get an app to work correctly in the cloud.

Before you begin the migration process, make sure you understand which applications are ready for the cloud and which aren’t. Cloud Technology Partners suggests asking the following diagnostic questions before moving apps to the cloud. If you can answer yes to all three, your app should be able to reap the benefits of the cloud from day one.

  • Test 1: Is the data decoupled from the application? If not, you can’t run the data and app in separate workspaces. Separate them before a move to the public cloud, where workload distribution brings performance and reliability advantages.
  • Test 2: Is the application unbound to an older security framework? Hard-coding security into an app isn’t necessarily an issue — unless it’s an outdated model that creates vulnerabilities. The security approach and application should be decoupled — but still interdependent. That will give you the flexibility to proactively update security.
  • Test 3: Is the application well-designed? Poorly designed apps run poorly everywhere — including in the cloud. Well-designed apps run well everywhere. Carefully consider which apps need to be redesigned and recoded for the public cloud.

Signing an SLA that doesn’t cover your apps

The quality of cloud SLAs can vary greatly, but be aware that cloud providers have a vested interest in keeping them vague. Too many businesses sign SLAs only to learn later that they fail to cover relevant application requirements. Your SLA should list your app’s performance and availability needs and describe how it will use cloud services.

Ask the following questions to ensure you’re signing a top-flight SLA:

  • Does your SLA explicitly address areas like availability, transaction time, storage and performance? Does it cover all the other areas you consider critical?
  • How visible is application performance? You can’t know whether your SLA terms are being met without substantial visibility.
  • Does your SLA specify results? SLAs should help you measure the value you’re adding by moving to the cloud.

Assuming post-migration management will happen on its own

Too many organizations assume that once applications are in the cloud, they’ll take care of themselves. Not so, unfortunately — the cloud doesn’t magically confer self-management capabilities on migrated apps. You need an operations team for cloud systems just as you do for on-premises systems.

Fortunately, cloud providers offer technical support, which often includes a dedicated technical account manager who can serve as an extension of your IT team. This account manager provides a single point of contact and will often offer detailed technical guidance and expedited escalation. And many migration service providers include post-migration management in their offerings. Rackspace end-to-end migration management includes ongoing operational support from experts certified in the cloud of your choice.

Failing to ensure cloud visibility

Inescapably, moving to the cloud means relinquishing a degree of administrative control. IT will no longer have direct access to the infrastructure that’s hosting applications. At the same time, locating the source of a problem may become more complex: Was it the application? The network? The cloud provider?

You can resolve these issues by establishing meaningful visibility into, and control over, cloud-based applications. That means having the right monitoring and application tools in place, as well as defining and deploying performance and adoption metrics. Fortunately, IT will have a variety of cloud-native monitoring tools to choose from, all of which can provide valuable application-level insights. And you should be able to find tools that are particularly well-suited to your business.

Clinging to a traditional security philosophy

In an on-premises environment, you have a security specialist who develops security architecture and responds to threats. When you move apps to a public cloud, your IT team needs to cultivate a broader understanding of security risks and capabilities. That means rethinking the security implications of app development, quality assurance and testing.

You should also be aware that security breaches in shared public clouds can do exponentially more damage than they could on-premises, simply because a single breach threatens every tenant. Make sure you have a robust security education program in place for your workforce, ideally in conjunction with your cloud service provider. Activity logging, alerts and third-party audits should all be mandatory.

Another way to avoid mistakes: experience

There is, of course, another way to reduce migration mistakes: Engage an experienced partner. It’s always smart to have a team of experts at your side, and Rackspace has managed successful migrations for thousands of businesses. We take care of your migration from start to finish, and we’re certified experts in all world’s leading clouds, including AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, VMware and OpenStack.

Learn more about our industry-best migration support, or check out our public cloud migration white paper for a deeper understanding of migration challenges and strategies.


Eric Johnson is the AWS Evangelist at Rackspace. He has been working with AWS technologies as a developer and an architect for the last six years. His passion for all things new in cloud technologies drive him to be a lifetime student and fanatical speaker on all things cloud.


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