For many organizations that rushed into the cloud at the height of the pandemic, the primary goal was enabling employees to work from home, so business could still function. That doesn't mean the shift was perfect.
"The pandemic has forced enterprises to transition to the cloud at a more rapid pace because [enterprises] need to deliver consistent application performance, whether someone's working for home or working from the office," said Damon Ennis, senior vice president, products at Silver Peak, a networking company.
Transitions haven't all been perfect, especially if an enterprise prioritized being able to function over cost. That could be an expensive decision if nothing changes since mistakes in cloud migration can lead to overspend by 20% to 50%, according to Gartner.
With an unclear end to the pandemic, IT executives can still reassess their cloud use, especially if transitions were done in a rush. Here's what to look for:
There is such a thing as too much cloud
One common mistake businesses are making is overspending, particularly on SaaS, said Craig Lowery, vice president analyst at Gartner. That's especially true for companies that ramped up SaaS to support employees suddenly working from home, especially if customers already had a relationship with a provider and just expanded it.
When they did that, they may not have pressed for shorter term commitments, Lowery said.
Organizations may not have a clear picture of what they're using in the cloud either, which is a symptom of not knowing what's being used on-prem, said Kim Weins, vice president of cloud strategy at Flexera.
When going to the cloud, organizations might take a better "safe than sorry" mentality "so they might not be looking at the fact that that particular application is using 5% of CPU capacity and 10% of its memory capacity," said Weins. "If I move to the cloud and move it to the exact same amount of resources and run it 24/7, I certainly would be paying more in the cloud than I was paying on-prem."
In its 2020 State of the Cloud Report, Flexera found organizations are over budget for cloud spend by an average of 23%. Flexera estimates organizations waste 30% of cloud spend.
Enterprises should right-size to what they really need, and "take advantage of discounting. Look for apps where I can scale up and scale down," Weins said. Some can depend on demand, such as an e-commerce website that has less traffic in the middle of the night, or enterprises where workers aren't logged in on weekends.
Legacy systems and software stagger to the cloud
Organizations can expect poor performance if IT teams move everything from on-prem to the cloud and expect everything to work the same.
Ennis has seen "customers migrate to the cloud and move to something like Office 365, but they still have legacy architecture," he said. That means traffic is still being driven to a branch office or data center so it can go into the cloud.
While that may technically work, "you're going to have poor performance and inconsistent application behavior," he said. "If people are rushing, that's the part they are forgetting. Cloud transformation requires a network transformation."
Forcing older systems into the cloud can also cause cost overruns, said Lowery. "Something on-prem in a data center that was not designed with cloud in mind doesn't have any cloud native capabilities," he said. "You can certainly put it in the cloud and start running it, but it may not be cost effective."
One solution is to move apps into the cloud, but that's not always so easy either, because applications hook into each other, said Weins.
For example, to shift an e-commerce application running in a data center into the cloud, an enterprise needs to know what other "applications it's talking to," she said. "It may be talking to your HR applications, your directory applications, your financial applications. To pick up and move the e-commerce application, you need to understand what those dependencies are to make sure it still works."
In its cloud report, Flexera found two-thirds of enterprises cited understanding app dependencies as the biggest challenge in cloud migration.
Gartner recommends creating a cloud center of excellence (CCOE) to manage and govern different stages of cloud adoption. A CCOE can:
Create cloud computing policies and selects governance tools
Help users select cloud providers, architect cloud solutions and collaborate with the sourcing team for contract negotiation and vendor management
And raises the level of cloud knowledge in the organization by capturing and disseminating best practices
That may sound like a lot, especially for a small company, but it's really just a roadmap for cloud adoption, and typically involves one to three people with an advisory board drawn from across the organization.
"Innovations can occur at any time, and you have to be ready to assess them and determine if they are going to help you. This is not one and done," said Lowery. "It's going to be a constant refining process."