Migrating to the cloud is not a trivial effort. The cumbersome process of making the move to the cloud is often the most significant barrier preventing companies from doing so. Applications need to function and perform the same as they had while on premises. System admins still need to able to manage access, configurations, and data effectively. And most importantly, it’s essential to avoid introducing security vulnerabilities. According to a survey of 400 IT professionalsl, up to 57% of Amazon Web Service (AWS) users have reported stalled or failed cloud adoption. The number drops to 44% with Microsoft Azure users.

Cloud services like AWS and Azure are getting more cost-effective at low-scale, but can still become very expensive for large deployments, particularly when key usage elements are not taken into account. It is vital to understand the technical requirements pertinent to your applications’ needs with regard to network, compute and storage.

Here are ways to avoid some common mistakes when migrating to the cloud:

Find Expertise, Then Commit

Committing to the cloud requires contextual expertise. Many enterprises take on the challenge of migrating to the cloud without a knowledgeable guide. This can dramatically prolong cloud migration initiatives, as well as yield suboptimal configurations. Either of these circumstances can lead to significant cost overruns. The Partner Managed Cloud model has grown significantly in the past year, as organizations leverage partners that specialize in the applications and technologies companies need to leverage but do not want to take on ownership of themselves.

In the case of Big Data and Analytics, experts in these fields understand the compute, storage and network resources required for different types of data and analytics models. Vendors in this space are able to guide companies to a cloud based solution set that minimizes implementation time and maximizes the ROI on your cloud initiatives. This allows your company to exert its energy on strategic value-add activities that leverage the service instead of basic operational and administrative technology support tasks. If your needs do not require a PMC engagement per se, you should still plan on engaging a cloud services consultant team. They help you properly identify technical architecture and organizational changes required for your journey to the cloud.

If you are looking for initial up-front cost estimates, there are applications devoted to providing cost-analysis for most every cloud solution.

Avoid Vendor Lock-In

Vendor lock-in is every CIO’s nightmare. Public cloud offerings from Amazon, such as Kinesis or AppStream, are large ecosystems with their own native services, connectors, and other tools. Too often, customers are left with a narrow set of options when it comes to cloud adoption, relying on native services and connectors that don’t work elsewhere. This results in a dependance on that particular cloud ecosystem, making it extremely costly and technically difficult to move elsewhere.

To counter this scenario, companies may adopt a hybrid cloud solution to mitigate the risk or relying on a single provider. However, this model can potentially cause other management hassles. For example, owning a Splunk deployment in AWS brings challenges that are different from running it on-prem or in private cloud. Cloud agnostic service solutions will be key for hybrid deployment methodologies.

Build a Cloud Operating Model

Cloud implementations should be based on your business objectives with clear technical requirements defined to meet those business objectives. Enterprises that embark on this journey without proper planning will waste considerable resources in an already expensive investment or worse, end up with a botched deployment that affects customers.

A good cloud operating model needs to define how your organization will evolve and function after the migration is accomplished. This means mapping out a model that clearly describes how the cloud will transform your current workflows, internal processes and business operations in general. Specifically, it should account for everything that will be transformed by the successful adoption of the cloud and how you will subsequently benefit from the elements of the cloud that are superior to on-premise deployments. You must think through how and what cloud infrastructure will be deployed instead of legacy systems, address any security concerns and then plan accordingly for application management.

Moving Everything in One Shot

Moving all of your applications and data to the cloud is nearly impossible to do all at once. Effective cloud migration projects take into effect the need for phased implementations and go-lives. Your data infrastructure needs to continue to function securely and effectively as you migrate to the cloud, but plans should minimize the need for duplication to avoid needless cost surges during this phase of adoption.

Your cloud solution will have to be built one piece at a time. By evaluating your current environments, you should be able to to see how much process or technology redesign will be required. In doing so, you will also be able to understand the respective costs to assign priorities in the migration based on the best ROI for your line of business.

Cloud Solutions

Despite the challenges associated with cloud adoption, there is an undeniable momentum to the overall adoption of cloud based services by companies across all verticals. Cloud solutions have evolved from a market disruptor to a natural progression in the next-generation of IT, as the fastest path to extracting high-value solutions. In the case of extracting value from your data, organizations have already seen faster access to their data and correspondingly dramatically increased value from the analytics based on that data.