Avoid these five all-too-common cloud migration mistakes

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I’m on the cloud. You’re on the cloud. We’re all on the cloud. But, as we move more and more of our IT — lock, stock, and two smoking servers — to the cloud, you should make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Yes, the cloud can be a real help, but there are many ways to get it wrong. Here are five of the most common cloud migration mistakes:

  1. Not looking before you leap.

A few years ago, a THINKstrategies and INetU survey on cloud migration found that 70 percent of respondents admitted they had to change their cloud design before deployment and  over half had to make significant changes in direction within the first six months. Yow! Overall, 43 percent of cloud projects failed or stalled, and almost half needed more budget in those critical first few months.

In my consulting, I have to say those numbers seem right to me. All too often, someone in the executive suite simply decides that the cloud is magic and will make all things bright and beautiful.

Nope. It doesn’t. It only works if you do your homework first and then deploy.

  1. Taking an all or nothing approach

I’ve also seen way, way too many companies decide if they’re going to move to the cloud, they’re going to do it all. I call this the kitchen sink problem, as in “we’re going to migrate everything and the kitchen sink server.”

Don’t. Just don’t.

You can’t forklift all your infrastructure and services at once. It just won’t work.

Take your time. Consider all the issues and then, slowly and methodically, start moving your IT stack to the cloud.

  1. Focusing solely on saving money

Yes, the cloud can save you money. Really it can. But, don’t think that just because you’re moving from traditional IT’s CAPEX model to the cloud’s OPEX model will automatically put more coin in your wallet. It doesn’t.

It’s a different business model. What the cloud gives you is — in theory — more flexibility. That may mean you’ll save money on the annual report. But, if you don’t do it carefully, a cloud can cost you every bit as much — or even more — than running your own data centers.

  1. Assuming all clouds are created equal

Cloud vary wildly in their capabilities, costs, and purposes.

It’s not that, say, Microsoft Azure would work better or worse for you than Amazon Web Services (AWS). It’s that each company comes to the cloud with different requirements. Make sure you match your needs to what each cloud can provide. Do you want to continue to use a certain identity and access management program? Do you want to try serverless computing without much upfront work? Match your needs with what each cloud offers.

  1. Frequently changing your methodology

After you have your first cloud project migrations under your belt, make sure you’ve learned the lessons from those projects. I’ve seen way too many companies migrate one project using one method, then another migration with still another approach. And, before they know it, they’ve reinvented their cloud architecture so many times that their new 21st century IT infrastructure is a tangled mess.

Don’t do this. Once you’ve found a way that works right for your company, keep using it. Do not reinvent the wheel.

How to avoid cloud migration mistakes

All five of these mistakes have one thing in common: They show people not doing their homework.

Before making any significant IT changes, look carefully at what others have done before, what you want as a result of your migration, and then–and only then–make your cloud move.

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