The cloud is a must-have tool for business in the third decade of the 21st century — but migrating to the cloud is easier said than done. In truth, there are several threats that organizations expose themselves to when they are moving from traditional digital systems to the cloud. Fortunately, identifying these threats can help business leaders develop strategies to avoid them, allowing the business to take full advantage of the benefits of the cloud. Here are some of the most significant risks associated with cloud migration and what companies can do to mitigate them.

Lacking a Migration Strategy

Many business leaders assume that moving their data into the cloud will be a fast and simple task, so they neglect to devote time to making a migration strategy. However, lacking a strategy for cloud migration is incredibly risky behavior. In transit, data is at its most vulnerable; it could be lost or exposed, and if there is no structure in the cloud to keep data organized while at rest, it will almost certainly be more difficult for employees to access and use. Business leaders need to work with their IT teams to develop a holistic cloud migration strategy that includes everything from what data will move to when and where it will move as well as which cloud migration security solutions will keep the data safe.

Moving From a Complex Architecture

Often, as businesses grow, their on-premises architecture becomes more and more complex as servers and other networking solutions are added on piecemeal. As long as the on-prem environment remains, complex architectures are rarely a concern — but when a business begins to migrate to the cloud, complexity can become a significant risk. Developing and implementing a migration strategy is much more difficult with complex architectures, and it is likely that performance will be drastically reduced during migration, when the infrastructure will be widely distributed amongst a number of on-prem servers and multiple clouds. It might be wise to redesign the on-premises architecture before migrating to a cloud environment to mitigate risks.

Selecting the Wrong Cloud Provider

The cloud is such an essential tool for businesses and individual users alike that there are almost infinite cloud service providers for organizations to choose from. Unfortunately, it is possible to make the wrong choice. Not all cloud service providers are equipped to manage business needs and expectations. For example, not all clouds offer strong data analytic capabilities; not all clouds have built-in integration of specific systems and applications; not all clouds specialize in databases and data management. Before a business selects a cloud service provider, they need to perform extensive research to determine what services their organization needs and which providers implement required functionalities.

Maintaining a Long Migration Process

Many changes in business are best enacted over long periods of time, which allow employees to become accustomed to the change and leaders to recognize and rectify issues as they emerge. However, cloud migration is best accomplished quickly, as long migration processes can increase an organization’s risks. Though it might take up to a decade for a company to develop an on-premises infrastructure, migration to the cloud should take a year or less. This helps to mitigate losses in productivity as workers lose access to certain data and applications, and it reduces risks associated with insecurity while data is in transit.

Forgetting to Budget Properly

Moving to the cloud tends to radically reduce an organization’s infrastructure costs, as businesses no longer need to pay for the utilities to manage large numbers of servers — or maintain the IT staff to keep on-prem architecture in good health. However, many clouds and their as-a-service tools come with monthly charges, which business leaders need to keep up with to maintain their cloud infrastructure and environment. It may be necessary to restructure budgets to allow for a different distribution of cash flow during and after cloud migration. Additionally, business leaders should be careful to avoid the temptation of oversized cloud-based solutions, which may increase costs without providing value to workers or customers.

The benefits of cloud migration undeniably outweigh the risks. However, the more business leaders do to mitigate the risks associated with migration, the more they can enjoy the benefits of the cloud.