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Cloud migration in 2020: The biggest challenges

(Image credit: Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock)

2020 is poised to be the year where cloud migration and adoption as well as cloud spend will skyrocket by as much as 17 per cent.

As more and more enterprises jump on the cloud bandwagon, many will discover that the journey to cloud is not always a smooth ride. The same challenges arise time and time again, often preventing organisations from reaping the real benefits of the cloud.

What cloud provider do I choose?

When kick-starting the journey towards enterprise cloud migration, organisations often get the buy-in to progress with a Cloud Centre of Excellence or to build an entire product in a public cloud provider. However, many of these organisations will struggle at the next step: which basket do I put my eggs in? i.e. what cloud provider do I choose?

Traditionally, organisations do not have the enterprise support structures to onboard providers like Amazon and Google (not the case with Microsoft, who usually have well established support relationships). Instead, they decide to either progress with an RFP or they choose the supplier that’s easier to onboard. Both of these approaches fail to cater for the impact on engineering and the developer experience.

So, what approach should you take? Perhaps you already have a small team of engineers who are trained in a certain cloud provider. Perhaps you have a product that needs developing that could best use the services provided by a certain cloud provider. Or perhaps the regions in which your business operates and your customers are based are best aligned to the regional availability of a certain cloud provider.

In all cases, choosing one initial provider to prove out your organisational maturity for adoption at scale is critical. Which brings us onto our next challenge: trying to take on too much cloud at once!

Multi-cloud – the temptation of trying to do too much too soon

This is a challenge that we seem to come across time and time again. Most organisations at the initial stages of their cloud adoption journey are trying to do too much too soon. These organisations can be quick to jump towards a multi-cloud approach to avoid vendor lock-in. However, by adopting a multi-cloud strategy from day one, the result can often be sub-par engineering standards and insufficient organisational maturity to support the adoption. They bite off more than they can chew!

A multi-cloud approach definitely has its merits, especially within regulated environments. However, this decision should be made based on your engineering and organisational maturity and experience as opposed to the marketing-driven fears around vendor lock-in. Too often, organisations fail to understand the regulator’s stance around cloud adoption and make decisions based on emotional factors rather than practical regulatory concerns.

The best approach is to focus on one cloud provider first in order to build an organisation’s technical capabilities) and prove out the ability to host product-grade workloads in line with the organisational and regulatory frameworks that surround it. Once an organisation has the people and process aspects in place and proven to some degree, slotting in additional cloud platforms merely becomes a question of scale and technical capability as opposed to organisational ability.

Additionally, as organisations start ramping up their multi-cloud efforts significantly in 2020, due to either increased regulatory pressures or the need for a specialist cloud platform for certain use cases, being able to do one cloud really well prior to scaling to another, using the lessons learnt, becomes of utmost importance.

The end goal is for the second cloud to be as good as the first, but not immediately. This way you are moving towards cloud neutrality in the long-term, but in an incremental fashion that reduces risk and minimises cost.

Cloud brokers - multi-cloud managers

It seems strange to have this on the list of challenges and blockers to wide-scale cloud adoption as we approach 2020, but it still manages to lurk around. The next step organisations often see as vital (once they’ve forced their engineering teams into a rigid multi-cloud framework) is to look at multi-cloud management brokers. These provide yet another abstraction framework and an inefficient API set to target in order to provide a ‘service catalogue’.

The history of cloud brokers has shown that this typically ends in either an expensive bill from the broker or a convoluted engineering mesh that hinders scalability and often leads to frustration within the engineering teams.

Providing engineering teams with a loosely coupled framework that lets them explore and consume the best that cloud providers have to offer has proven to be the only approach that scales. This can then be complemented with certain domain-specific tools that enable a more effective governance model, without hindering engineering creativity.

An example of this could be an organisation’s FinOps team looking to effectively manage, review and optimise their financial posture around cloud consumption, and using a multi-cloud cost management tool such as Cloudability.

In summary, for an organisation to successfully scale their cloud adoption in 2020, they have to embrace the best that each cloud provider has to offer. However, this doesn’t mean adopting new clouds too quickly, through fear of vendor lock-in – the best cloud strategy may be a single cloud for now. Finally, businesses must provide their engineering teams with a loosely coupled framework to adopt these whilst leaving room for engineering creativity.

Deepak Ramchandani Vensi, Account Principal, Contino