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7 common cloud migration challenges and how to overcome them

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This blog has been expertly reviewed by Adam Dunn, AWS Alliance Business Development Manager at Nasstar.

Cloud migration means moving infrastructure, apps, data, and business processes from your on-premise resources to the cloud. You can also migrate from one cloud environment to another. Cloud adoption can improve a variety of business operations with benefits like increased agility, flexibility, scalability, performance, and cost-efficiency.  

But, in many cases, the migration process is not without its challenges. You’ll need careful planning, expert knowledge, and ongoing improvements to ensure a smooth transition. Armed with all this, you can maximise return on investment and set yourself up for future growth. 

In this blog, we’ll look at seven of the most common cloud migration challenges, who they apply to, and how you can overcome them. 

Why migrate to the cloud? 

Migrating to the cloud comes with several significant potential benefits. When implemented well, cloud solutions can transform your business objectives, bringing new opportunities and a competitive edge.  

Below are some key benefits of cloud computing: 

  • Cost-efficiency: With the cloud, you don’t need to invest in physical hardware, maintenance, and energy costs. Instead, you only pay for the resources you use. This helps you manage expenses and reduce capital expenditure. 
  • Scalability: The cloud allows you to scale your resources up or down to match demand patterns. This flexibility gives your business key change management benefits, enabling you to adapt quickly and efficiently. Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments also allow you to tailor your IT environment to exact business needs. 
  • Disaster Recovery: Prominent public cloud providers — like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) — invest in highly reliable disaster recovery and backup solutions. This ensures many layers of protection for your sensitive data and key systems, minimising downtime should an incident occur. 
  • Remote collaboration: Cloud services let your employees access data and applications from anywhere with an internet connection. This is especially true when using web-based SaaS systems. This mobility allows organisations to embrace new technologies while enabling business continuity and providing a fantastic user experience. 
  • Security: Cloud providers use the latest technology to secure their IT infrastructure. Often, this provides a level of protection that is beyond the reach of most businesses, including physical, network, and data security tools.  
  • Improved focus: Using the cloud, and a cloud managed services provider to handle the heavy lifting, means your business can focus on your core competencies in the market, rather than having your IT teams working on the operating and maintenance of hardware and databases. 

Is cloud migration difficult? 

While there are many benefits to migrating to the cloud, it’s not always a straightforward task. Cloud migration can be a complex procedure, with its difficulty varying based on your unique IT infrastructure and business goals. The below factors, for example, can all affect the migration process: 

  • Volume and type of data: What does your current data look like? Generally, the more complex or sensitive the data, the more challenging the migration process could be. Likewise, regulatory needs can affect your migration project. 
  • Infrastructure complexity: Some apps, especially legacy systems, might not be designed for the cloud. They may require significant modifications or even replacing entirely before you can begin your digital transformation. 
  • Organisational complexity: Understanding the benefits the cloud can bring to your business is essential, as is buy-in from the rest of the organisation. Without this collaborative approach to embracing the cloud, you could experience problems with resistance. At Nasstar, we pride ourselves on bringing cloud benefits to life with adoption and change management best practices. 
  • Skills available: The skill level available to your business will greatly affect the difficulty of the migration process. If your team has experience with cloud services or you work with an experienced cloud services provider, you may have a more successful migration. 

As with all IT projects, cloud migrations can sometimes be tricky. But often, the benefits outweigh the difficulties. With proper planning, the right tools and expert guidance, the challenges of cloud migration can be managed effectively. 

The most common challenges of cloud migration 

There are several challenges when it comes to cloud migration. But before we delve into the most common challenges, we asked our AWS Alliance Business Development Manager, Adam Dunn, which cloud migration challenge he sees most frequently: 

“In my opinion, the most common challenges come from not understanding what the business outcome is or what the organisation is trying to achieve. For example, Nasstar worked with an organisation whose challenge was around performance and scalability. Understanding this challenge in relation to what they wanted to achieve enabled our cloud solution designers and architects to make decisions that addressed their needs.” 

Below, we look at seven common cloud migration challenges and how you can mitigate their effects on your cloud environment. 

1. Not having a solid cloud migration strategy 

Failing to have a solid cloud migration strategy is a fundamental challenge. Without a firm business case and thorough roadmap, you might see various issues, such as downtime, organisational resistance to change, data loss, and over-budget cloud costs.  

Who does this affect? 

This challenge is faced by organisations that do not fully appreciate the complexities involved in cloud migration. They may also underestimate the amount of work needed to migrate their IT infrastructure, or not have key performance indicators (KPIs), tracking methods, or a clear vision of a “successful project”. 

How to overcome the challenge 

  • Develop a comprehensive migration strategy during the early stages. It should include clear business objectives and a high-level prioritised list of core systems so the business can be agile and adaptable through the change. 
  • Have a well-defined budget, implementation timeline, and KPIs that map to business goals to measure your success against.  
  • Collaborate with all relevant stakeholders to create a sense of evangelism. Assign responsibilities and communicate the process to everyone involved. This helps everybody understand the entire strategy, rather than parts of it. 
  • Be careful around “analysis paralysis” as sometimes the optimal path is not always clear, so designing flexibility in the solution is advisable. 

2. A lack of expertise during the cloud migration process 

The cloud migration process requires skills and expertise that many organisations do not possess internally. If a project starts without addressing the skill gap, it can lead to mistakes, disappointments, increased costs, and a missed opportunity to take advantage of the cloud’s full benefits. 

Who does this affect?  

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are most likely to experience a lack of internal expertise. Generally, any organisation with limited IT resources may experience this challenge.  

How to overcome the challenge 

  • Invest in training for existing staff, helping them develop cloud computing skills. 
  • Identify evangelists in the organisation and empower them to bring the rest of the team on the journey. 
  • Work with external cloud migration experts, or partner with a cloud service provider that offers migration support. 
  • Use automation tools to reduce strain on existing staff and free them to help with your migration project. 

3. Meeting data security and regulatory needs 

Data security and compliance are non-negotiable. Any business undergoing cloud migration must keep them front of mind at all times. Although this is number three in our list, it’s always one of the first requirements to be resolved as security is a key component of any cloud environment. 

Who does this affect? 

Almost all businesses face data privacy requirements. This need has grown since the introduction of standards like GDPR. However, this challenge is particularly applicable to organisations operating in highly regulated industries such as finance and healthcare 

How to overcome the challenge 

  • Understand your future cloud environment. Conduct a thorough assessment of the security and compliance features offered by cloud service providers to see if they meet your needs. 
  • Understand your data. What levels of protection does your data need? Develop a data governance and data loss prevention (DLP) plan, implementing security measures such as encryption, multi-factor authentication, and audits where required.  
  • Understand the shared responsibility model of cloud security. Your cloud provider is typically responsible for the safety of the cloud infrastructure. Meanwhile, you are responsible for securing the data and applications you host in the cloud. 

4. Existing workload and data migration 

Migrating existing workloads and data to the cloud can be a complex and time-consuming task. That’s especially true if they were designed a long time ago or fit niche workloads. 

Who does this affect? 

Organisations with large volumes of data may find it challenging to migrate to new storage. Applications with intricate dependencies or configurations are also likely to experience this challenge.  

How to overcome the challenge 

  • Careful planning is the key. Understand your workload needs then select appropriate migration tools and methods.  
  • Perform thorough testing to ensure the migrated workloads function correctly in the cloud environment before going live.  
  • Consider the potential impact on application performance during the migration process. Business-critical apps might need to be migrated in different ways to minimise disruption. 

5. Ensuring cloud security at all times 

Ensuring cloud security is an ongoing concern. Of course, security extends beyond the migration process but it’s also a key consideration when planning your strategy.  

Who does this affect? 

Safeguarding data, applications, and infrastructure against cyberattacks and unauthorised access is a continuous challenge every organisation faces, including those using cloud services.  

How to overcome the challenge 

  • Implement a comprehensive and proactive security strategy. This should include regular audits and the use of monitoring tools (like AWS CloudWatch and Azure Monitor), alongside patch management processes.  
  • Provide training for all staff, helping them to spot common threats like phishing and malware attacks.  
  • Use cloud-native features and tools to enhance security once your system is in the cloud. This includes services like AWS IAM and Azure Active Directory for access control, as well as AWS WAF and Azure Firewall to protect against network intrusions and common web exploits. 

6. Cloud environment cost management 

Lowering up-front equipment costs is a crucial benefit of the cloud, but managing costs in a cloud environment can also be challenging for some businesses. Without proper oversight, the overwhelming number of available cloud services and pay-as-you-go pricing model can lead to unexpected expenses.  

Who does this affect? 

Organisations that do not have a clear understanding of their cloud pricing model might struggle with this challenge. Those who do not monitor their usage regularly and reduce unused services may also face unexpected costs.  

How to overcome the challenge 

  • Use cost management tools to set budgets and usage alerts. These will let you know when your spending hits a predefined limit. 
  • Regularly review and optimise your cloud usage, ensuring you only provision what’s needed. This includes scaling on-demand but also by expected use patterns.  
  • Taking advantage of cost-saving options such as volume discounts can also help in managing costs effectively. This first requires a good understanding of your usage and budgets. 

7. Cloud infrastructure performance issues post-migration 

Cloud migration projects don’t end the minute you go live. Post-migration performance issues can potentially arise due to various reasons. These include inadequate bandwidth allocation, network latency, or application architecture issues.  

Who does this affect? 

The most likely cause of this issue is underestimating cloud resource usage. Organisations not performing thorough testing and cloud optimisation post-migration will likely experience this challenge.  

How to overcome the challenge 

  • Conduct regular performance testing once you’ve moved to the cloud. This will help you spot opportunities to improve.  
  • Monitor your cloud environment to keep track of metrics that impact your critical workloads, like latency or storage capacity. 
  • Optimise your architecture and resource allocation as needed. This is where the scalability and flexibility of the cloud will help you adapt to changing business needs. 

How Nasstar can help 

Migrating to the cloud brings many important benefits to modern businesses. But sometimes, the process can be challenging with planning, expertise, and regulatory hurdles.  

Overcoming these challenges involves thorough planning, expert guidance, continuous monitoring, and optimisation. By addressing these challenges head-on, you can ensure a smooth transition to the cloud that maximises your return on investment. 

At Nasstar, we understand the challenges companies face when moving to the cloud. We have vast and varied experience in the industry and certified AWS and Azure teams. Our expert team can help you avoid pitfalls and ensure the maximum impact from your cloud services.  

Speak to a specialist to learn more. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What does cloud migration mean? 

Cloud migration is the process of moving data, applications, and other business elements from on-premise or existing cloud infrastructure to a new cloud environment. Successful migrations require planning, executing, and optimising to ensure business needs are met. 

What is a cloud migration strategy? 

A cloud migration strategy is a plan that outlines the approach, skills, and resources needed during the project. It usually describes moving from an on-premise environment or another cloud to the desired cloud platform. Typically, it covers many cloud concerns, such as security, compliance, cost and performance. 

What are the main challenges with moving to the cloud? 

The main challenges with moving to the cloud include:  

  • Having a sufficiently thorough migration plan in place 
  • Ensuring data security and compliance 
  • Managing costs and achieving maximum ROI 
  • Migrating existing workloads and data without disruption to business 
  • Maintaining performance and availability 
  • Expertise in overcoming all the challenges 

What are the four R’s of cloud migration? 

The four R's of cloud migration are: 

  1. Rehost: Also known as 'lift-and-shift'. This involves moving applications and data to the cloud with no changes. 
  2. Refactor: This involves making changes to the application, such as code alterations, to make it more suitable for cloud hosting. 
  3. Replatform: This involves moving applications to the cloud without changing existing application architecture. 
  4. Replace: This approach is more drastic, involving significant changes to applications used to fully take advantage of the cloud. 


In recent times, this list has been extended which you can learn more about in this blog.