Do you have a Cloud Hangover?

Many organizations, eyeing their cloud adoption initiatives in the rearview mirror, are beginning to suffer some buyer’s remorse. Either the promise of the public cloud has failed to materialize, or perhaps sights were set on the wrong goals to begin with. A misapplication of the “lift-and-shift” cloud migration pattern is often the root cause of a cloud hangover.


A good cloud adoption strategy delivers elasticity, interoperability, and security with operating costs that scale with demand. A lift-and-shift that simply transplants an on-prem solution to the cloud is unlikely to yield these results. Getting a handle on costs, paying off technical debt, and achieving real value requires refactoring solutions to fit an architecture aligned with your business goals.


Death, Taxes, and your Cloud Invoices


A key part of the cloud value proposition is elasticity – the ability to dynamically scale resources to meet both increase and decrease in demand. Done correctly, this results in a reduction in cost during quiet periods. But an on-prem solution transplanted to the cloud is unlikely to support elasticity, sized instead for peak demand and producing a reliably high bill.


Data egress charges introduce an architectural curveball as well by adding an entirely new dimension of operating costs. Lift-and-shift solutions are not going to be optimized to minimize data egress, having been built for an entirely different runtime environment.


Challenges created by a cloud migration extend to the overall business model as well. Customer usage of cloud-hosted systems can directly impact costs. Full Spectrum has worked with clients whose users often make excessive use of data export functions and public APIs, negatively impacting system performance and driving up the cloud invoice. The cost structure for the product itself must adapt to this reality to avoid margin erosion.


Avoiding Cybersecurity Technical Debt


While cybersecurity is a challenge in any environment, companies considering a lift-and-shift migration need to carefully rethink the security strategy and architecture. Public cloud providers offer the necessary tools to implement secure architecture, but without the right controls and processes in place, it is all too easy for human error to introduce devastating problems through simple misconfigurations.


Third-party software introduces both concerns and opportunities in the cloud as well. Leveraging containers and serverless technologies can greatly reduce the burden of patch management. However, a lift-and-shift migration of a bare metal solution not built for containerization is not positioned to benefit from this. Operating securely in the cloud requires companies to plan refactoring projects to modernize the underlying architecture of their systems.


In some cases, it makes more sense to move workloads to third-party software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. Full Spectrum recently helped a partner that had suffered a breach related to unpatched third-party software they were self-hosting in the cloud. While patching the affected applications would have solved the problem at hand, the ongoing maintenance and risk of recurrence would have been unacceptable. The prudent solution was migrating to the vendor’s SaaS offering, eliminating the maintenance burden all together.


Keep your Eye on the Prize


While a lift-and-shift migration is often the lowest cost path to the cloud, it incurs a hidden opportunity cost in the unrealized value of what the cloud can offer: agility.
The original promise of agility in the cloud has grown well beyond shortening time-to-market through the elimination of hardware procurement. By embracing a modern DevOps culture and cloud-native architecture, companies can push updates to production multiple times per day, delivering new features to customers with immediacy instead of quarterly.


Taking an API-first approach and architecting for interoperability, companies can rapidly integrate new technologies such as AI/ML. Opening a system through APIs helps move away from closed monoliths to readily adaptable platforms, allowing customers greater flexibility. Full Spectrum is working with a SaaS vendor adapting their lift-and-shift system to an API-oriented model to address customer demand for third-party integrations. The result will unlock growth opportunities while reducing support costs.


There’s no Time like the Present


Companies on the verge of a new cloud migration effort need to carefully consider options beyond the lift-and-shift approach. The first step is to identify the value you’re trying to achieve from your efforts. Cost-oriented projects need to focus on how the existing system architecture will impact operating costs in the cloud. Projects intended to unblock development teams and drive new product growth should look at how to adapt their processes to the cloud and what architectural patterns (such as microservices) will improve agility.


For lift-and-shift efforts already operating on the cloud, it is time to consider the next phase of the journey. Have you realized the value you expected from your migration? If it feels like you have the same problems as before but with the added burden of a monthly bill, it may be time to engage with experts who can help evaluate the gaps and chart a path forward.


Those cloud invoices will continue to arrive every month, and nothing you improve in the future will erase yesterday’s bill. The time to take action is now.