5 Common Challenges of Cloud Migration and How to Solve Them

By Gus Torrey

Published on July 13, 2021

5 Pain Points of Moving Data to the Cloud and Strategies for Success

The race to the cloud is on! Yet increasing complexity of data makes the old “lift-and-shift” model not just unrealistic, but risky. Businesses with complex data environments need a migration method that takes that complexity into account. They also need to devise a plan for overcoming cloud migration challenges to guarantee success.

5 Common Challenges of Cloud Migration and How to Solve Them

This recent cloud migration applies to all who use data. We have seen the COVID-19 pandemic accelerate the timetable of cloud data migration, as companies evolve from the traditional data warehouse to a data cloud, which can host a cloud computing environment. Accompanying this acceleration is the increasing complexity of data.

Many organizations continue to handle structured data, transactional data, and log data. However, collection of new data types is increasing, as experts have noticed these same organizations are now also managing internal text data, machine data, and semi-structured data at a greater percentage than ever before. Complex data management is on the rise, and the need for a structured cloud migration plan is the answer. But to create a well-thought out plan, we must first consider the most common challenges of cloud migration. Let’s take a look.

What Are the Top Challenges of Cloud Migration?

Slide of the pain points and top challenges of cloud migration

Cloud migration challenges stem from the shift in existing workflows, new responsibilities, and the need for secure cloud data migration. Here are the top five cloud migration challenges:

  1. Required Skills for New Environments

  2. Data Classification

  3. Data Governance, Trust, and Quality

  4. Building the Cloud Migration Plan

  5. Dealing with Legacy Systems

We can attribute this increase of complex data management to the growing importance of analytics within an organization. A rising demand for self-service analytics (over the reports and dashboards of old) is another factor. Therefore, this spike in complexity directly correlates with new cloud migration challenges. The good news is that no challenge comes without a solution. Let’s take a deeper look at the most common cloud migration challenges and the solutions organizations use to overcome them.

1. Required Skills for New Environments

Organizations are in dire need of experts with key skills to create the pipeline and infrastructure for their new environments. But often, existing employees lack the skills or know-how to accurately migrate to these new cloud technologies. Training staff on the necessary skills and knowledge is vital to navigate the new cloud transformation. Organizations should look to partner with cloud management experts to assist extended teams. By offering staff training and cloud assistance, businesses can eliminate downtime and speed up processes.

2. Data Classification

Data classification determines the value of any data set based on a common starting point for data governance. However, if data is not classified properly, unidentified sensitive data may be migrated without ample protection — putting that data at risk for exposure, and the migrating entity at risk of violating regulations. Organizations must pay attention to how data is stored and transmitted to and from the cloud, ensuring sensitive data is properly managed and protected at all times from theft or loss.

3. Data Governance, Trust, and Quality

Data governance defines how data should be gathered and used within an organization. It is crucial to establish compliance, data access, data democratization, and a common data vocabulary for data analysis. In this way, data governance is an essential prerequisite for migrating trusted, quality data to the cloud.

Strong data governance supports smart cloud migration. Before migrating to the cloud, leaders must ensure the data they’ve chosen to migrate is trusted, validated, and clean. Again, a solid data governance foundation will ensure future cloud data is both useful and usable, establish who can use it, and how. Without a strong governance foundation, businesses will face several complex challenges along the way.

4. Building the Cloud Migration Plan

Migrating to the cloud requires meticulous planning and strategy. Too often, organizations lack a plan that accounts for potential pitfalls. This means businesses aren’t taking potential challenges into consideration before devising a plan for cloud migration. This is particularly true for leaders who favor a “lift-and-shift.” The lift-and-shift migration strategy aims to move all assets directly to the cloud, which can quickly grow costly and disruptive. Rather than seeking to move all data to the cloud, wise data leaders instead should prioritize the most useful data for migration.

Businesses should start with a detailed cloud migration plan that analyzes business objectives with their current infrastructure. The first step is to shift apps that don’t need any changes within their compatibility. Then, establish and align interaction between virtual and on-premise infrastructure. And lastly, reconfigure applications while disconnecting outdated ones. Building a well-thought-out plan ensures an easy transition and avoids analysis roadblocks down the road.

5. Dealing with Legacy Systems

Legacy systems are information systems that are often too outdated to work within a cloud environment. Yet, these systems are crucial for day-to-day operations.

The marriage of on-premises with cloud data is challenging, especially when there is a lack of knowledge for cloud-based technologies and incompatible legacy applications. To deal with this, organizations can deploy automation to convert existing legacy code. By automating the scanning of legacy data sources, legacy architecture is transformed into independent microservices, giving a business the agility to have a swift migration to the cloud.

What Is the Role of the Data Catalog in On-premises to Cloud Migration?

A data catalog plays an important role in the success of cloud migration. Simply put, a data catalog will spotlight the most popular, useful data, which is the data leaders should prioritize for migration. (In organizations that play host to complex data environments, 20 percent of the data typically generates 80 percent of the insights.) A data catalog further supports cloud migration by:

  • Ensuring data governance throughout migration — empowering data stewards with tools to protect data.

  • Centralizing data access and management — allowing a business to scale governance.

  • Providing easy access to data — delivering fast cloud migration results.

  • Offering valuable information on data, like popularity — so a business migrates only what they need.

With a data catalog, businesses will set the precedent for a smooth transition for existing and future cloud migrations

How to Overcome Cloud Migration Challenges

To overcome the top cloud migration challenges, review and take inventory of the current infrastructure and resources of your business. This includes anything from identifying the cloud migration skill set of current employees, to reviewing what business processes work or need improvement. From there, build a strategy that considers the needs of your business throughout the entirety of the cloud migration process.

Another way to overcome the challenges of cloud migration is to leverage a cloud service provider with data catalog capabilities. With the Alation Cloud Service, businesses rely on useful intel and data security to reduce risks and costs to drive rapid cloud adoption.

Alation uses deep analysis of analytical processes to create a data migration strategy, specific to each individual business. With added insight, effective change management, and analysis to understand which data should and should not be moved, businesses benefit from a safe and secure cloud migration. In addition, the Alation Data Catalog allows users to power data intelligence across their hybrid cloud environments — meaning users can manage their data themselves or have it done for them.

Interested in learning how your business can reduce the risk and cut costs of cloud migration? Sign up for a personalized demo and explore how Alation Cloud Services navigate the complex data environment with trusted cloud data migration.

  • What Are the Top Challenges of Cloud Migration?
  • What Is the Role of the Data Catalog in On-premises to Cloud Migration?
  • How to Overcome Cloud Migration Challenges


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