Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed the benefits of cloud computing for businesses as well as customers in detail. The cloud’s growing influence on the IT industry cannot be denied or overlooked. More and more organisations are moving their data centres to the cloud and using the technologies and services offered by cloud computing to manage their applications online, altogether eliminating the hassle of building on-premise infrastructure and hiring an IT team dedicated to maintaining it. However, despite the many advantages of the cloud, organisations, especially bigger ones with legacy applications, large teams and traditional processes can find it challenging to suddenly migrate to the cloud, even if it is just partially. With proper planning and in-depth analysis of these challenges, enterprises will be able to mitigate the effects of these challenges.

Some of the major challenges faced by businesses considering the adoption of cloud are:

Data security

Security is a double-edged sword. While service providers are always in the process of developing technologies and deploying protocol that makes an enterprises data even more secure, worrying about data leaks and breaches is a natural consequence for businesses considering the move from on-premise and self-owned servers to third party clouds. Especially when it comes to businesses that deal with sensitive customer information, such as banks and financial institutions. It is worth noting, however, that while security is a major concern when it comes to adoption, it is also a major benefit — given that most reputable cloud computing hosts offer world-class security that most enterprises wouldn’t be able to afford on their own.

Interoperability

Large enterprises with legacy systems and existing deployments can find it challenging to adopt a hybrid cloud environment where their public cloud, on-premise tools and applications, and legacy systems work together smoothly. While this might be a challenge in the short term, over time they disappear, as systems evolve and the enterprise up-skills its employees and re-engineers existing infrastructure with the cloud at the centre of its growth strategy.

Re-architecture of processes and systems

Migration to cloud infrastructure naturally affects existing processes and systems. Cloud infrastructures function very differently from on-premise servers. To initiate employees into a cloud environment, some degree of re-skilling and up-skilling of employees becomes necessary to equip them with the specialised knowledge required to use the cloud to its fullest potential. At the same time, systems and processes need to be tweaked and re-architectured keeping in mind the new cloud-based functionalities. All this can seem like a complicated undertaking and a monumental change in the short term, but make processes a lot simpler in the longer run.

Vendor lock-in
Migrating to a cloud environment can be a laborious process, but worth the benefits, when done right. However, there is the possibility of an enterprise not feeling satisfied with the cloud service provider’s services after migration. Switching to another host can result in losses instead of savings for the organisation due to vendor lock-in. Additionally, locking-in with one vendor denies enterprises to switch to better products and services with another provider. These challenges can be dealt with by meticulously laying out the goal for adoption, requirements, the most critical services required by the host, support and security protocol, and finally a strict cost-benefit analysis.

Cost-savings uncertainty

When planned and analysed in detail, cloud adoption can lead to immense savings for organisations. But visibility of these savings can shrink over the long term due to complex pricing models and hidden charges due to fluctuating demand. When this happens, the decision to migrate can turn into a cost, rather than a saving. To avoid this, businesses need to do a long term cost benefit analysis taking into account capital, operational, and overhead expenditure both in the short and long term keeping in mind expected growth in demand.