Cloud Adoption “Don’ts:” Beware of These Mistakes in Your Cloud Journey

Cloud adoption has become a nearly universal approach to technology-powered transformations. For companies looking to improve resiliency, scalability, and efficiency, while cutting costs, and achieving operational nimbleness, the cloud is often the first choice. But while cloud technology does offer these benefits, as well as many more, not all companies can reap them.
8 min read
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07/06/21
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By Yuri Gubin
Chief Innovation Officer, DataArt
By Darina Tkachenko
Managing Editor
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Cloud Adoption “Don’ts:” Beware of These Mistakes in Your Cloud Journey

When starting a cloud journey, some businesses set unrealistically high expectations about the benefits of the new infrastructure, while disregarding the amount of work and skill needed to adopt cloud technology properly. According to recent research by Gartner, through 2024, 80% of companies unaware of mistakes made by organizations in their cloud adoption will overspend in cloud by 20% to 50%.

Wrong decisions made in the early stages of a project are expensive to fix and often result in organizational, performance, cost-related, security, and compliance gaps. In this post, we discuss some of the pitfalls organizations encounter in their cloud journeys and offer advice on common mistakes for companies that have yet to plan their cloud adoption strategy.

Don’t Stymie Yourself with a Single Cloud Project

When companies first start to transition to the cloud, they usually start small — a single door-opener project, like replacing an on-premises VM or infrastructure component with a cloud equivalent. “This project,” they often think, “will give us a general understanding of how things work in cloud, the team will pull the right skills up, we’ll see how much this costs.”

But companies that do not think about the cloud holistically and focus on just a single project tend to get trapped when subsequent cloud initiatives kick off. Suddenly, the foundation they created for the first project does not work for other ones. What seemed like over-planning and over-engineering at the beginning was actually an opportunity for strategic planning that the company failed to understand.

Always start a cloud adoption with thorough planning and the right mindset. Although it is impossible to predict all of your future needs, do not let a small, initial project dictate the pace of a cloud journey or limit future initiatives. Start small, think big.

Don’t Neglect Well-Architected Frameworks

Major cloud services vendors provide Well-Architected Frameworks — recommendations and actionable guidelines for designing and running systems in cloud, while incorporating cost optimization, operational excellence, performance efficiency, reliability, and security. These frameworks highlight important decisions in the cloud adoption strategy, prompting the team to be proactive and discuss the right questions early on in the process.

However, many companies start their cloud journey randomly, without considering well-architected practices. It is only after a few months that they run a well-architected review and find out if their system lags in one or more pillars. They are then forced to spend additional time and money to change their processes, policies, and technologies based on well-architected review recommendations.

Well-architected practices should not be an afterthought. Consider, implement, and align with them from day one.

DataArt is a partner of every major cloud provider and has advised hundreds of clients on the best ways to plan and implement a cloud strategy using well-architected frameworks. Sticking to them, as we suggest to our clients, is a constant process that helps keep up with the velocity and services of their cloud provider.

Don’t Re-Create Your On-Prem Setup in the Cloud

When starting a cloud journey, some companies mistakenly try to replicate their infrastructure and setup and implement certain on-prem technologies, like back-up and restore, firewalls, and load balancers in the cloud environment. This is wrong.

At DataArt, we have worked on many projects where engineering teams, in the process of transferring their solution to the cloud, made these decisions and relied on the skills and competencies they had employed for on-prem systems. Not taking cloud adoption best practices into account usually proved to be a fatal mistake for them.

As practice shows, technologies that worked well for on-premises systems are inapplicable in the cloud. On-prem setups replicated in the cloud are prone to vulnerabilities (security, compliance, etc.), usually carry a severe technical debt, and eventually become too hard to maintain.

Cloud offers multiple capabilities and technologies you never tried on-prem. Use them! Conduct an analysis of the available options that fit your new setup, explore cloud-native technologies.

If the engineering team lacks the skills to work with cloud technologies, now is the best time to master them. Equipped with your newly-acquired tech competencies, your team will be more efficient and open to future developments in the cloud.

What You Should and Should Not Do When Transitioning to Cloud

Don’t Bring Your On-Premises Mindset to the Сloud

This point relates to the one above. Some stakeholders, or even entire teams involved in a cloud adoption, may mistakenly project the mindset and culture they had when operating on-premises on the new cloud environment. This is what the famous pets vs cattle analogy describes.

Governance, management, and operations in the cloud are completely different. That is because the cloud is synonymous with “scalability.” Adopt a true cloud-oriented mindset, and do not treat resources in the cloud the way you did on-prem.

Do not use static IP addresses for your virtual machines; do not maintain the VMs manually; do not optimize them for individual workloads. Instead, automate creation, management, and provisioning of resources; design for availability and be ready for a quick system recovery if your services collapse. Constantly monitor performance, availability, and the use of cloud resources to increase business agility and optimize spending.

Don’t Neglect Disaster Recovery for Cloud Infrastructure

According to respective SLAs, major cloud service providers guarantee an uptime of around 99.9% and connectivity for instances in multiple regions. This means that there can be at least 4.38 minutes of permitted downtime per month, or almost an hour per year. While this does not sound like a long forced halt, there is no schedule for these downtime periods.

While it may take just a couple minutes for the cloud environment itself to get back up and running, it can take hours, if not days, for a business system to recover after such an anomaly. While it may sound redundant  to invest in a disaster recovery (DR) strategy given the provider’s SLA, the first instance of downtime will surely prove otherwise.

For the sake of business continuity, your company should have a basic DR strategy in place, so your systems in the cloud recover quickly and safely.

Plan disaster recovery as a part of your cloud adoption strategy. Test DR action plans for every geographical region and zone and consider how you are going to troubleshoot each service if the underlying cloud resources suddenly become unavailable. Think ahead how to prevent data loss that may occur during and after a cloud outage.

Video Case Study Merchmanager — Andrus Logistics

Don’t Let Stakeholders Deprioritize Cloud Initiatives

Like any organizational transformation, cloud adoption is a multi-step process involving different teams and shareholders: enterprise architecture, DevOps, networking, security, compliance, budgeting, etc. Sometimes the priorities, adoption criteria, and interests of these groups misalign, and some stakeholders do not take cloud initiatives seriously. As a result, cloud projects start to lag in certain aspects. Wrong decisions are made, incorrect tools are chosen, and inconsistencies in cloud policies appear. The end result is a delay in cloud adoption.

All cloud adoption frameworks recommend that, for the initiative to be a success, all teams involved in the process should have full buy-in, understand their roles in the process, and own respective zones of responsibilities.

These should be clearly outlined in an organization-wide cloud strategy document and revisited frequently.

Don’t Let Cloud Automation Be an After-Thought

When companies initiate that first, door-opening project, they often succumb to a natural desire to keep it fluid and agile. At the first stages in their cloud journey, they think of automation as something that slows the project down and can be easily implemented later. The bad news is, by the time they finally realize they need automation, their cloud setup already carries a severe technical debt and is too complex. As a result, the preexisting software needs to be automated, increasing the cost by three, four, or five times.

You need to implement automation for every cloud workload and do so in the early stages of your journey. The whole point of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) lies in automating provisioning and configuration of cloud services.

In further stages of cloud adoption, automation will help you manage complex solutions, with complex CI/CD strategies and SRE practices.

Video Case Study Costs Optimization and Migration to GCP

Conclusion

The path to cloud adoption is long, complicated, and sometimes thorny. But the end result is worth it.

If your company is taking its first steps into cloud transformation, it helps to have a reliable and experienced vendor by your side. With the guidance of a technology partner like DataArt, your company can avoid common mistakes and pitfalls in the cloud journey. We are here to help with your cloud needs. Contact us today!

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