Pitfalls of a cloud-only deployment: Questions, considerations, and insights for cloud migration

by | February 22, 2024

Spending on public cloud services is expected to grow 20.7% this year, reaching new heights of nearly $600 billion. Yet two-thirds of tech leaders, reports WSJ, are not seeing optimal ROI on these investments. The discrepancy between these figures is alarming to the many IT leaders who are making decisions about cloud migration. It’s enough to make anyone second-guess their choice.

While cloud migration is nearly ubiquitous in 2024, it’s not one-size-fits-all. Cloud-first policies have their place in service of certain enterprises, especially born-to-the-cloud companies, who face far fewer barriers (including entry cost and resources expended) when diving headfirst into the cloud. For legacy companies and others with established on-prem infrastructure, every dollar counts – especially when skeptical stakeholders are involved.

Despite the commonly touted advantages of scalability and agility associated with cloud infrastructure, it is possible for enterprises to scale beyond the capability of their new technology. Legacy companies and others with established on-prem infrastructure often overlook the possibilities of finding value in a hybrid solution.

Is it right for now?

In our most recent episode of The UPSTACK Podcast, we welcomed guest Shunit Kainy, IT procurement specialist and expert in Cloud governance, to discuss the issues many companies face with a cloud-first approach.

Poignantly, Kainy asks, “I don’t really care what we’ve done for ages – is it right for now?” This is a key question you should be asking before you dive into a new cloud-based infrastructure.

Kainy is the Head of Global IT Procurement for Teva Pharmaceuticals and Co-founder of Technology Procurement Israel. Her experience in procurement has given her a unique perspective on cloud governance, policy-making, and synergistic decision-making across departments and specialties. You can listen to the podcast episode here.

Are you gearing up to take things to the cloud in 2024? Learn the issues you may face, and what to look out for as you make your decisions.

Insight #1: You have to plan ahead for security.

Companies that adopt cloud may not be prepared for the onslaught of new security challenges. Issues of access management, data security, and other mission-critical items can suddenly multiply as new cloud infrastructure opens up entry points, new vulnerabilities, and enlarges existing weaknesses.

Though enterprises tend to have more robust cybersecurity measures in place, any new technology introduction can rattle existing measures to the core. And, startups and SMBs are not exempt from risk, eithercloud governance is critical at all sizes.

SMBs, and even some enterprises, may not have a designated procurement team in-house which can lead to deficits in key areas that arise when implementing cloud technology: visibility, monitoring, and optimization.

When utilizing a hybrid cloud, companies mitigate some of the risks associated with these crucial security facets by blending existing on-prem hardware, most of which is ideally already protected within the organization’s security infrastructure, with the new and modern features that make the cloud attractive.

Per TechTarget’s hybrid cloud breakdown, “A newer hybrid cloud architecture approach involves public cloud providers offering hybrid cloud platforms that extend public cloud services into private data centers. Everything is based on the same software stack. These hybrid cloud platforms connect public and private resources in different ways[…] to orchestrate container-based services.” No matter the level or type of cloud adoption a company chooses, data will be traveling much farther and in brand new directions, especially so when on-prem software is greatly reduced or eliminated entirely.

But, in what we count as an advantage of hybrid cloud, TechTarget continues: “Hybrid cloud computing enables an enterprise to deploy its most sensitive workloads in an on-premises cloud, connect to workloads and data sources hosted by independent SaaS and PaaS providers and host less critical resources on third-party public cloud PaaS and IaaS providers. This approach provides organizations with the best of private and public cloud models.

In terms of flexibility, agility, and getting the “best of both worlds,” a hybrid solution may trump other cloud models– but, even still, it’s crucial to have a team in place to handle new and emerging security concerns arising from any technology transition.

We often refer to this designated team as the Cloud Center of Excellence, or CCoE, an industry term used to encompass the key players, typically in-house, that are responsible for certain aspects of your cloud technology. This can include issues such as general security, compliance, and governance – the latter being critical.

“From the get-go, you need to have those mechanisms in place,” says Kainy. “If you have an account that is violating privacy in some way, you are risking the company in a big way. […] I think the team that sets the guardrails for governance should include finance partners, procurement, and IT security architectures. This is the Cloud Center of Excellence. If you don’t have it, [get a] third party. Closing your eyes does not eliminate the problem.”

Insight #2: You may not really save money.

Enterprises tend to be under the impression that cloud technology costs less, or offers greater ROI, compared to on-prem or hybrid. This is partially to do with great marketing on the part of providers, a general sense of excitement about “new” or popular technology within the industry, and an especially sticky phenomenon: vendor incentives.

Kainy says that cloud services, in their fight against data centers, are constantly rolling out new solutions and incentives to entice people. But possibly due to lack of forethought, or the desire to clinch a deal on cloud before the offer is gone, many companies move back to data centers in some capacity.

Aside from the eventual payback on incentives, companies who jump into new contracts often put too little forethought into the maintenance and optimization of their cloud technology.

“You cannot be cost-efficient [in a cloud agreement]  without consolidation, without looking at the entire usage of the company,” Kainy shares.

Many companies see IT as a cost, not a value generator. The challenge is for IT professionals to demonstrate value, created through careful investments, regular monitoring, and wise choices.

Easier said than done, especially in the case of cloud migration. There are hundreds of new cloud solutions and products hitting the market every month – how do you discern what you need?

Insight #3: It’s not always the agile option.

Regular podcast listeners are likely familiar with Greg Moss’s warnings about the “hype cycle” of new and emerging technology– we’re seeing it now with cloud tech, and with AI as well. New offers, incentives, and publicity can be powerful factors of persuasion, and some companies will enter into agreements hastily, without doing the due diligence necessary to drive technology decision-making.

Kainy points out that some companies will realize, over a span of as little as 2-3 years, that they aren’t benefiting from the cloud in ways they thought they would, at which point they re-evaluate their choice. In a world of tight budgets and a need for short time to value, this is far too long. Companies lose agility, she continues, because they are incentivized to make concrete commitments. It’s crucial to determine whether or not an offer is really right for your company, or just seems like a good deal.  Adopting any solution and locking into it without enough consideration, is a waste of limited and precious resources – not to mention, when you go halfway on implementing a tool and then prematurely eliminate it, instead of seeing it through fully, your investment goes completely to waste.

When determining which cloud solutions and applications you actually need – and which are just part of the hype– it’s important to understand what type of company you’re working with, Kainy shares. Your organization may be a legacy company, running extremely old hardware, or a born-to-the-cloud company that may have more room to err when adopting new solutions.

But, equally important is finding a sustainable pace – some solutions are too fast-paced for your company’s agility level, and some solutions or pieces of solutions are irrelevant or of low priority to your business.Too many priorities or facets can muddy the waters, creating complications and errant costs.  Eliminating the lower-tier priorities can help you streamline your technology decisions.

For example, in use-cases like increasing storage, the cloud can be extremely useful to companies of all sizes and paces. But, when it comes to network, communications, mobility, and other use-cases often covered by cloud products, it’s important to consider whether or not your company can and will utilize these resources in a way that provides value. Otherwise, you may return to the same on-prem technologies– and you could’ve avoided that initial blunder by choosing a better-fitting, hybridized solution.

UPSTACK can help you transition with efficiency

While it’s easy to get excited by technology that is new and shiny, IT teams looking to position the department as a value generator need to ensure that all new technology fits the cost model and creates potential for returns.

Often, people leave these once-exciting (and very expensive) tools behind as time passes and move onto the next thing. It’s unsustainable at best and distracts from the ultimate goal of IT to add value.

UPSTACK often recommends a hybrid solution to our clients. We find that, in considering all of the factors above, most clients benefit more from this approach. Hybrid cloud architecture allows companies to make greater use of existing infrastructure, enhancing the capabilities of their current technologies without starting from scratch. This saves you time, money, and resources that can best be spent on bringing your solution to its full potential through optimization, monitoring, and targeted use.

The final thought

The truth about cloud is that it’s not the golden ticket, but it is worth considering in certain capacities and use-cases. Companies shouldn’t err to one extreme or the other – all-cloud or no-cloud. Instead, there should be thoughtful consideration about the available solutions versus your use case.

There’s no one answer or one-size-fits-all solution for your business – at UPSTACK, we know this firsthand. Our experts carefully consider all aspects of a client’s operations, budget, and capabilities, making recommendations that slice through the hype and reach the core needs of your business.

If you’re struggling to find a cloud solution that fits your business, or are ready to take the leap but hesitant about the factors above, reach out to our experts. UPSTACK is your partner in finding the best cloud solutions possible for your business.

Visit us to get in touch.