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The Unseen Costs of Cloud Migrations


The move to the cloud is unstoppable. Enterprise spending on cloud computing is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16% until 2026,  fueling growth in both public (18%) and on-premise (10%) cloud markets.

This increased spend is being driven by the very clear and tangible benefits that the cloud delivers – greater scalability, flexibility, agility and lower total costs of ownership – leading  to enterprise CFOs stating that cloud computing will have the most measurable impact on their businesses in 2017 alone.

However, one aspect of cloud adoption that is rarely discussed is the cost of the migration process itself: in other words, how much time and resource it will take to move an application from the on-premise network to the cloud.

The costs hidden in the mist

The costs of cloud deployments don’t end with the cloud provider contract.  In fact, a 2016 Forrester report found that amounts paid to the cloud platform provider dwarf in comparison to the cost of migrating applications to the cloud – with labor accounting for up to 50%.

Much of the labor costs can be attributed to the technically challenging process of migrating applications to the cloud.  Our recent ‘Hybrid Cloud Environments: The State of Security’ survey highlighted some of these challenges:  32% of respondents had difficulty mapping the critical application traffic flows before they even started a migration project; 44% had difficulty managing their security policies post migration;  and worst of all, 30% reported their applications simply did not work after the cloud migration.

And the fact of the matter is that these costs are adding as much as $3,000 per server migrated to the cloud to the overall cost of the deployment. With this in mind, it’s clear that the overall costs of cloud migrations can easily (and quickly) go way beyond what organizations originally envisaged.

Reducing the unseen costs

So, what can be done to reduce the overall cost of cloud migrations, and enable organizations to realize the benefits they set out to achieve without costly delays and problems?

First, organizations need to identify which applications are not suitable for migrating to the cloud before they begin the process.  In our experience on average 85% of enterprise applications are suitable for migration. By weeding out the 15% that aren’t at the outset many of the challenges (and costs) both during and post migration can be reduced.

Having established which applications are suitable for the cloud, the migration process can then be accelerated using an automation solution that can map all applications in the existing network, and their connectivity flows – a process that helps to understand the changes that need to be made to the flows so that the application will work in new cloud environment.

You should then be able to use the solution to navigate through the actual migration process to the cloud, automatically generating the hundreds of security policy change requests that are needed across on-premise firewalls and cloud security controls.  This dramatically simplifies a process that is typically extremely complex, labor-intensive and risky. Furthermore, once the applications have been migrated, the automation solution should be used to provide unified security policy management for the entire enterprise environment – both on-prem and in the cloud.

As my colleague Edy Almer previously blogged there’s no fail-safe way “business applications can be beamed up, Star Trek style, into the cloud”, but an automation solution will make the process faster and easier to manage by eliminating time-sapping, error-prone manual processes, such as connectivity discovery and mapping during the migration itself, and in ongoing management.  And as a result, much of those unexpected and unseen costs of cloud migrations can be avoided.

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