In light of contemporary digital evolutions, it is imperative to assess cloud technology as a viable alternative to conventional hardware acquisition, given the numerous advantages of transitioning an on-premise IT setup to a public cloud, despite the inherent risks.
During public cloud migration, businesses often overlook crucial factors and associated risks. The threats the cloud poses are typically encountered in traditional IT infrastructures. This is unsurprising, given that the software utilized within the cloud and on physical servers share common vulnerabilities. Furthermore, the responsibility for these risks is shared between the cloud service provider and the end user. Hence, organizations must fully understand these risks and choose a cloud provider aligning with their needs and compliance policies.
Let’s delve into some of the questions when leveraging cloud services.
1. Hazards of errors in a cloud migration project
An inadequately planned cloud migration project can trigger unanticipated business disruptions, gravely affecting revenue and brand reputation. Moreover, poorly executed migration processes may lead to other issues within the project, such as partial data loss, failure of migrated services in the cloud, breached SLAs, and more.
Before initiating any migration, it is vital to outline the following parameters: the selection of applications to be migrated, the order of migration, the volume of data, and the project timelines. Opt for a trusted software and services provider with a solid track record and established methodologies for migrating client workloads from the original platform to the cloud, employing specific migration tools and techniques. A preliminary assessment can highlight potential pitfalls. A comprehensive migration strategy is essential to apply best practices and prevent expensive mishaps.
2. The risk of unforeseen cloud expenditure escalation
The primary motivation for adopting public cloud solutions is cost reduction. Despite the high initial costs of cloud migration, it shifts expenditure from capital expenses (CAPEX) to operational expenses (OPEX). However, cloud budget overspends can occur due to several factors:
- Unnecessary activation of surplus resources for several days or weeks can cause the cost of cloud services to rise, especially during scaling phases.
Unplanned costs may arise due to accidental or unauthorized subscriptions to new services.
- The ease of use of cloud services can lead to unauthorized usage, which may not always result from an employee’s deliberate intent. For example, it’s far easier to inadvertently use additional services than to purchase another physical server unintentionally.
- Migrating to the cloud necessitates adjustments to internal business processes, and companies often lack an appropriate method to test the new model until the migration is complete. Any flaw in the model can lead to unchecked spending.
- Running workloads in the cloud necessitates a change in mindset for engineers and cloud users to comprehend the new model. Understanding that all resources are billable is crucial, and R&D departments must institute budget control, provisioning culture, and best practices.
Consider using a cloud management platform to oversee all IT resources and gain complete visibility into IT expenditure. These platforms offer budget-oriented resource control and predict future cloud costs. A cloud management solution helps curb budget overruns through budget assignments, complete provisioning control, predictive insights, intricate reports, and automated optimization based on a detailed analysis of past and current IT usage. Investing in cloud management software can save up to 35% of monthly cloud costs.
3. The peril of vendor lock-in
The threat of vendor lock-in is a significant concern for businesses undergoing digital transformation. The reliance on a single service provider can be considerable, as several essential elements, such as infrastructure, data, networking, and user management, are under the vendor’s control. Consequently, should a need arise to switch to a different provider, the business could face considerable disruption due to high costs, legal hurdles, or technical incompatibilities.
Before settling on a cloud service provider and initiating a migration project, a seasoned architect should diligently evaluate whether the provider can effectively manage the applications. To lessen the potential for vendor lock-in, applications should be migrated based on a lift-and-shift approach or designed to be as flexible and loosely coupled as possible. This can be achieved by using containerization and incorporating REST APIs, coupled with widely accepted industry standards like HTTP and OAuth, to decouple your applications from the underlying proprietary cloud infrastructure. For legacy products, the lift-and-shift strategy ensures that the cloud provider can be switched later if any issues arise or SLAs are not met. Furthermore, OS-agnostic and cloud-agnostic migration software facilitates movement between any cloud platform with minimal downtime and complete process control. Finally, in case of a negative experience, this software allows users to transition from one cloud provider to another or to establish a hybrid cloud.
4. The hazard of application failure in the cloud post-migration
One contributing factor to malfunctioning cloud applications following migration is neglecting an application dependency map during the migration design stage. When undertaking cloud migration, companies must account for the interrelationship between applications and the overall infrastructure. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider this aspect and opt for a solution equipped with cloud orchestration, which includes configuring network settings and boot order. Overlooking the creation of an application dependency schema and the specification of the infrastructure can significantly increase erroneous application operations. In addition, the absence of test migrations can also result in malfunctioning applications.
Comprehensive planning of the infrastructure migration process can prevent future errors. Once a cloud provider is selected, request test access and conduct a migration simulation. Initially, move a simple service to the cloud, assess the time consumption, test functionality, analyze any errors, and then proceed to the next service, gradually increasing complexity. Undertake the final migration only if you are confident of success following a series of test migrations to verify connectivity, performance, and application integrity.
5. The challenge of IT resilience in a public cloud
Transitioning to the cloud always involves balancing retaining control over the IT infrastructure and entrusting it to the more experienced hands of a cloud provider. This balance must be achieved regarding cloud security and the business impact in a disaster. The level of responsibility the chosen provider assumes depends on the cloud model (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS).
Develop a robust business continuity strategy to ensure seamless operation during large-scale disruptions. For example, regular block-level replication of an entire virtual machine can significantly reduce the risk of data loss in the cloud.
6. Risk of breaching Service Level Agreement (SLA)
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) establishes the quality benchmark for IT services delivered to a business. It details the terms for service provision and the rules for a customer’s usage of these services. It’s imperative that the quality metrics align with the company’s business objectives and accurately reflect its needs. However, a signed SLA does not guarantee that the service will consistently meet the agreed-upon standards.
Weak software interfaces or APIs, used by customers to manage and interact with cloud services, can expose an organization to various threats. Companies and third-party service providers often utilize cloud-based interfaces to provide additional services, thereby increasing their complexity and risk. This is especially true when customers must share their registration information with such service providers to facilitate service provision.
7. Threats of vulnerable interfaces and APIs
Weak software interfaces or API, used by customers to manage and interact with cloud services, exposes an organization to some threats. Companies and third-party service providers often use cloud-based interfaces to offer additional services, which makes them more complex and increases the risk, as it may be necessary for the customer to provide their registration data to such contractors to simplify the provision of services.
These interfaces must be robustly designed, incorporating authentication, access control, and encryption to ensure adequate protection and availability of cloud services.
Currently, an escalating number of businesses opt to embrace cloud technologies, recognizing their potential to address and optimize a wide array of tasks. However, when contemplating whether to partially or fully transition data and applications to a public cloud platform, companies must assess such a move’s prospective benefits and risks. In my view, cloud technologies’ rising potential for economic efficiency is a driving force for private and public sector organizations to migrate their operational activities to the cloud. For more insights into cloud transformation, refer to an article in our Blog.