Inhibitors to Change: twelve reasons why Cloud migrations fail

Resistance to change, a lack of vision, legacy technology, financial constraints… There are many reasons why migration plans fail to deliver. Here are 12 key issues encountered by Cloud adopters, and how to overcome them.

cloud_migrations_fail_0.png1. People

People present the number one inhibitor to every change project, including Cloud migrations.


Employees are naturally resistant to change. Operational processes, especially those that have been in place for years, become entrenched and people cannot easily escape the rut.
When dealing with new technologies, particularly in the Cloud, you are likely to encounter a skills gap with your existing team unable to deal with the new Cloud paradigm.

"You can't build an adaptable organisation without adaptable people - and individuals change only when they have to, or when they want to." - Gary Hamel

2. Culture

A lack of vision from senior leadership will severely limit the scope and success of any transformation project.


Resistance to change often starts at the top of the organisation, and encouraging or tolerating this creates a culture that is incompatible with Cloud transformation. If corporate culture is resistant to change, this needs to be addressed before migration work begins.

3. Legacy technology
Old technology may keep the business ticking over, but it also severely inhibits change.


Legacy technology consumes funds and resources that should be spent on strategic projects. Similarly, inflexible architecture cannot scale to meet changing requirements, so your business pays for unused redundancy to cope with peaks in demand. And even if you do have additional funds available, legacy technology reduces the scope for new deployments because of interoperability issues.

"Eight out of ten dollars that companies spend on IT is 'dead money', used to 'keep the lights on'." - Gartner

4. Finance
Cloud adoption is not about massive cost savings. In fact, your whole approach to finance will need to change. If it doesn’t, your migration project is likely to fail.


The Cloud pay-as-you-use billing model changes IT spend from capital investment to operational expenditure. However, the switch to PaaS IT will need to be closely monitored and controlled to prevent overspend. What’s more, applications may need to be re-engineered to take full advantage of PaaS so that businesses don’t consume billable resources unnecessarily.

5. Insufficient understanding of current infrastructure
Many firms simply do not fully understand their current infrastructure, which is a significant problem when planning a migration to the Cloud.


Many organisations lack a detailed asset inventory for their data centre and rack layout, and operate a poorly populated Configuration Management Database (CMDB). Similarly, they do not have easy oversight of hardware and software maintenance contracts which are often placed in limbo between IT and finance, with neither party wanting to take responsibility.
No easy oversight of hardware and software maintenance contracts also makes it harder to understand what you are paying for. As always, the answer is to engineer systems that break these silos, giving teams the oversight they need to better plan and manage operations - both onsite and in the Cloud.

Without reviewing existing infrastructure, organisations cannot start the migration journey – or assess progress once they have begun.

6. No real-time information
Data silos prevent most businesses from accurately assessing performance - which makes forward planning an exercise in guesswork, not evidence-based decision-making


In many cases, real-time information simply isn’t available or is incomplete.
This lack of oversight makes strategic decision-making almost impossible in the age of disruptive computing and digital transformation. Increasing real-time visibility will need to be a priority as you transition to the Cloud.

7. Customer journeys, staffing journeys, and internal journeys
Knowing IT assets is one thing. Understanding how they are used is another. Businesses with failing Cloud migration projects typically lack several key insights.


In the same way that businesses lack insight into their existing infrastructure, many have not fully understood how it is being used. This means they are unable to align services to infrastructure, map out service dependencies, or build an application and service roadmap to plan how Cloud-based systems will affect (or improve) system usage.

8. A lack of data protection policies and untested recovery plans

Despite massive improvements in data protection technologies, many businesses are still leaving themselves unprotected.


For many companies, Disaster Recovery plans are regarded as an insurance policy and are never tested or updated. This is compounded by a fear of change and an inability to reverse what they do if something goes wrong, and can lead to migrations being delayed, down-scaled or even the cause of data loss.
Testing DR plans and provisions is essential to establishing confidence, both in DR, and the ability to roll-back if required.

9. Limited understanding of the data and the requirements of the services for the data
In most cases, data is understood in its primary context, such as CRM for sales and marketing, and finance for accounts.


This singular view of data exposes a lack of understanding about unstructured data and its potential. Failure to address this approach limits the scope of Cloud projects, leads to missed opportunities, and fundamentally undermines system design which also increases the cost of re-architecting applications

10. Limited understanding of the impact of data governance, compliance, and regulations
Legislation, such as GDPR, along with industry regulations affects how data is used and stored in the Cloud. Failure to account for these factors can cause Cloud projects to fail.


Rules regarding data storage and security are complex and easy to breach. Factors to consider when moving to the Cloud are storing data in GDPR-compliant systems, and within the relevant national boundaries. Information must be secured properly, with safeguards in place to limit sharing only with permitted partners. And don’t forget, GDPR gives individuals complete control over their data so systems need to enable that control.
Fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual turnover means a data breach is simply not an option, and this risk can seriously hamper any Cloud migration project.

11. Lack of alignment between IT assets and financial records
IT keeps systems running, Finance pays the bills… but neither department knows exactly what they are paying for. As an example, it is a common issue. Is the business making direct debit payments for licenses or contracts that are no longer required?


Without a deep understanding of financial insight, businesses cannot build a TCO. Organisations need to be able to answer questions like "if we don’t renew, what happens?" and "Which resource does that payment refer to?"

12. Lack of understanding of future maintenance liabilities
When considering Cloud migration, many cost-benefit analysis exercises neglect to calculate the future cost of maintaining and supporting existing on-site assets.


OEM maintenance contract costs can increase by 20% each year, or more. And it’s factors like this that are easily overlooked when performing a cost analysis. To succeed, businesses need to consider Cloud migration projects in terms of the cost of not making the move to hosted infrastructur

Final thoughts: it pays to know where you are now
The hardest part of any successful Cloud migration is the planning and preparation that takes place before work starts. But, the rewards of a discovery stage to understand the current state of your infrastructure - and how applications and services are used - can create a long-term impact:

Realisation and release of significant financial benefits
The financial benefits of Cloud migration include:

  • Transition to an OpEx spending model
  • Pay only for what you use
  • Instant IT scalability

Agile software-defined Hybrid Cloud infrastructure to meet strategic objectives
The increased flexibility of Cloud infrastructure assists with:

  • Total scalability to cope with fluctuating demand
  • New technology adoption simplified, through SaaS and minimal on-site installation

Operating cost reductions
Reducing and controlling IT spend is a valuable side effect of a well-executed migration project, including:

  • Support and maintenance bundled into Cloud subscription fees
  • A reduction in on-site infrastructure that need to be maintained
  • Rationalised finances help to reduce overspend and payments for unused assets that are maintained 'just in case' Purchasing for redundancy becomes a thing of the past
  • Increased resilience and reduced risk
  • Multi-site Cloud data centres dramatically increase system availability without placing additional burdens on the in-house IT team.
  • Enterprise-class data security defences are included as part of the service, helping to protect information assets at no extra cost
  • A greater choice of DR provisions reduces downtime in the event of a disaster
  • Data governance and compliance obligations such as GDPR are met through a choice of data location and enhanced security provisions