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Cloud migration best practices: 4 potential problems to avoid

Andrew Larkin, from the Cloud Academy, explains why successful cloud migration strategies require more than just a 'lift and shift' approach to maximize the benefits of the cloud.

When it comes to cloud migration best practices, there are numerous organizational factors to consider -- and several potential problems to avoid, according to Andrew Larkin, director of learning and head of content at Cloud Academy Inc.

In this SearchCIO Q&A, Larkin delineates top cloud migration mistakes companies make and highlights how they can affect an organization's efforts to implement cloud migration best practices. He explains why the "lift and shift" approach -- simply moving one application from on premises to the cloud -- isn't always the best way to go when trying to maximize the benefits of the cloud. He also sheds light on why organizations should have a security-first mindset and empower their teams during cloud adoption but also be cognizant of the hidden costs associated with the move.

Editor's note: The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

When implementing cloud migration best practices, what are the top cloud migration mistakes and how can organization avoid potential problems?

Andrew Larkin: The top cloud migration mistakes to avoid are:

Andrew LarkinAndrew Larkin

1. Not making security your No. 1 priority.

No matter the size of the migration or deployment, security must play a part from the very beginning. A security-first mindset ensures that [cloud migration] best practices are at the forefront of all corresponding methodologies, design considerations, processes and procedures. A multilayer approach ensures that the appropriate security measures are built into every layer of your architecture -- including network, user, application, service, etc., making your system secure from external threats and even from nonmalicious internal breaches or loopholes.

2. Forgetting that people will be the key enablers of any change.

Cloud migrations often require transformation in both processes and day-to-day activities. People naturally tend to resist change, unless that change is part of their own idea or initiative. As your organization shifts to the cloud, think of ways to involve and encourage individuals to take ownership, and how to enable and support teams to be self-organizing and self-managing.

Don't look to simply lift and shift your environment from on premises to the cloud with the mindset that you will resolve issues once everything is up and running.
Andrew Larkindirector of learning, Cloud Academy

3. Don't bring on-premises problems into the cloud.

Migrating to the cloud gives you the opportunity to fix a lot of legacy misconfigurations and poorly built environments that exist within your current infrastructure. Don't look to simply lift and shift your environment from on premises to the cloud with the mindset that you will resolve issues once everything is up and running.

When you know which core services you need for migration, I recommend you look to rearchitect your solution when you migrate to maximize the benefits of the cloud. Examine the best practices offered by the provider for each of your deployments. Implement additional security that is available to you at every stage, design your applications and services with failure in mind, and build high availability and resilience into your design.

4. Don't forget to factor in data transfer costs.

This is one area of spending that is often overlooked or undervalued. Transferring data into the cloud is typically free of charge. However, any requests that result in data being moved out of the cloud will incur data transfer costs. Be sure to look at these costs for each of the services you intend to use, as pricing may differ by service, as well as by region. I would recommend looking at services that could help reduce data transfer costs, such as AWS CloudFront, a content delivery network. By caching a lot of the data from your servers, this will reduce costs and the amount of data transfer required.

In part one of this Q&A, Larkin highlighted the key misconceptions and disadvantages of cloud computing.

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