8 Cloud Migration Challenges Businesses Face – and How to Overcome Them

Cloud computing can streamline business processes, reduce costs, and increase productivity, but achieving these benefits isn’t easy. While many cloud migration challenges are obvious from the beginning, some risks are not so obvious. Businesses that begin a migration project without being fully prepared can face scope creep, unplanned costs, adoption issues within the organization, downtime, and worse.

Here are the most common challenges you are likely to face during the cloud migration process and what you can do to overcome them.


of IT decision-makers have faced significant challenges while implementing their organization’s cloud migration strategy.

Foundry’s 2022 Cloud Computing Stud

#1. Financial Cost of Cloud Migration

Managing cost is one of the greatest challenges of cloud migration. Organizations often struggle to anticipate cloud migration costs and make mistakes that further increase the cost of moving to the cloud.

Major costs of cloud migration can include:

  • Rewriting applications for the cloud
  • Investing in tools and cloud migration services to supplement missing skillsets
  • Training users on new applications, environments, and protocols
  • Performance issues such as downtime and dependency on on-prem components
  • Bandwidth costs
  • Technology or vendor lock-in
  • Inefficient cloud usage and waste

According to Gartner, here are the most common ways cloud migration costs get out of control:

  1. Choosing the wrong cloud migration partner. Many decision-makers choose a partner based on low cost or familiarity instead of expertise or try to rely on an internal team without the skillset.
  2. Rushed assessments. Determining the correct migration approach for each application is critical to a smooth and successful migration. Failure to properly assess workloads can result in inadequate specification of the migration requirements and scope creep later.
  3. Dependency bottlenecks. Insufficient assessment of applications can also fail to account for interdependencies between on-prem systems. Components may be grouped incorrectly which can prompt network performance problems, downtime, and delays.
  4. Pursuing the easier and faster “lift and shift” approach. Decision-makers facing pressure to complete a migration often opt for rehosting, or moving workloads to the cloud without modification. Avoiding the cost and time of replacing or rewriting applications instead results in higher operating costs after migration and other issues.
  5. Hidden and indirect migration costs. Organizations often fail to budget for indirect costs of cloud migration including residual costs of a vacated data center and transforming their organization to operate in a public cloud environment.

Cloud operating costs after migration also pose a challenge. According to Anodot’s 2021 State of Cloud Cost Report, 49% of organizations said it’s hard to get cloud costs under control. 54% say a lack of visibility into cloud usage is the main source of wasted cloud spending.

Cloud waste is both hard to manage and costly: 44% of organizations said at least one-third of their cloud spending is wasted every year. 46% of executives cited overprovisioning as the main source of cloud waste and 45% cited fragmentation across vendors and teams. 28% of organizations say it takes weeks or months to notice cloud costs have spiked.

Enterprise and small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) reported the same challenges of cloud computing costs. While enterprise businesses noticed cost spikes sooner, they had less insight into cloud costs than SMBs.

Careful planning is the best way to mitigate financial cloud migration problems. A cloud migration plan helps manage the scope of the problem, develop contingency plans, identify the best strategy to migrate applications, and identify potential issues ahead of time.

Other solutions to manage cloud migration costs include:

  • A hybrid cloud approach that keeps applications with consistent usage on-premise or in a private cloud
  • Choosing a cloud migration service provider with the necessary experience and expertise
  • Thorough application assessments to determine the most appropriate migration strategy and identify interdependencies
  • Upfront investment in rewriting or replacing applications for the cloud as needed to avoid higher costs and reduced performance after migration
  • Avoiding long vendor lock-in periods and researching vendors carefully

#2. Data Security, Privacy, and Compliance

Security is one of the biggest cloud migration challenges cited by IT decision-makers. According to Foundry’s 2022 Cloud Computing Study, major challenges include data privacy and security issues (35%), lack of cloud security knowledge (34%), and protecting and securing resources in the cloud (25%).

Data migration challenges include:

  • Choosing the correct deployment model (public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, or multi-cloud)
  • Understanding where data and applications are hosted for data privacy laws
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance
  • Monitoring for vulnerabilities and threats
  • Ensuring correct cloud configuration
  • Updating policies and processes
  • Security and privacy of data transfer during migration

Many small- to medium-sized businesses feel overwhelmed by the security and compliance aspects of cloud migration and lack the internal skillset to effectively mitigate these risks. Possible strategies to overcome cloud data migration challenges include:

  • Establish security standards by working with IT, development, and compliance teams.
  • Enforce multi-factor authentication at all stages of the migration.
  • Set up cloud-wide logging with logs regularly monitored.
  • Use cloud security posture management (CSPM) solutions to monitor for misconfigurations.

#3. Lack of Cloud Migration Strategy

Many of the challenges of migration to the cloud can be avoided with careful planning. Too often, organizations move forward with a migration to cloud services without proper planning, an understanding of their goals, or a way to measure success.

Every dataset and application has its own considerations and requirements. The cloud migration approach may need to be tailored to each component of your infrastructure. For example, it may be more cost-effective and secure to retain some components on-prem. For other applications, repurchasing a new version or application is more cost-effective and provides better performance than migrating legacy applications to the cloud.

Without a defined cloud strategy, the cloud migration process becomes more painful and disruptive. Your organization is more likely to experience unpredictable, ballooning migration costs and downtime or data loss with no mitigation plan in place. Lacking a cloud migration strategy can even hold you back from achieving the benefits of cloud computing that prompted the investment.

Aspects of a good cloud migration strategy include:

  • Clear goals the cloud migration should achieve
  • Means to measure success
  • Analysis of cloud deployments, providers, and cloud distribution models to design cloud infrastructure optimized for your uses
  • Identification of potential cloud migration challenges and mitigation strategies
  • Resources to support your cloud migration process
  • Selection of a cloud migration approach that best fits the applications, business goals, and other factors (such as replatform or “lift and modify,” the “rip and replace” approach, or a “lift and shift” approach)

With a plan in place, you can then develop a cloud migration roadmap and break the migration process into steps.

There are several cloud migration strategies your organization may consider known as the 5, 6, or 7 Rs of migration strategy, depending on who you ask. Your organization may use one or more of these strategies for a successful migration.

  • Rehosting (lift and shift) – transporting a copy of your existing infrastructure to the cloud
    • This strategy is best for smaller companies with simple workloads and a heavy reliance on virtual machines.
  • Replatforming (move and improve) – making changes to optimize an application in preparation for migrating to the cloud while leaving the application infrastructure largely unchanged
    • This can improve performance, reduce costs, and keep legacy applications going without compromising compliance or security.
  • Relocating – transferring one or more applications on multiple servers
    • This may involve transferring applications from one cloud environment to a new one or on-prem platform relocations to a cloud version. This strategy has minimal disruption and reduced costs, but the relocated workloads aren’t optimized for the cloud. Compatibility and maintenance can also take up resources.
  • Repurchasing (shopping and dropping) – replacing one or more applications with another product or version
    • This can include replacing applications with a third-party, cloud-based equivalent.
  • Retiring – identifying obsolete, unnecessary components of existing infrastructure that will not be moved to the cloud
    • This is useful for reducing costs and potentially improving security.
  • Retaining – identifying modules that will remain on-premise
    • This is usually done because they are not compatible with cloud platforms, represent a recent investment, can’t be moved for compliance and security reasons, or because migrating offers no value for the business.
  • Refactoring (decoupling and rewriting) – rebuilding the existing infrastructure from the ground up for cloud-native capabilities
    • This is the most expensive and time-consuming cloud migration strategy, but most likely to help an organization utilize the full benefits of the cloud. Organizations enjoy greater scalability and performance by refactoring workloads and the ability to better adopt new technologies and strategies like machine learning.

#4. Skill Shortage

A successful cloud migration requires a skilled team of cloud experts prepared to handle everything from cloud strategy planning and application development to optimization processes and cloud security. Cloud migrations are complex, and most organizations lack the needed in-house expertise.

The Foundry 2022 Cloud Computing Survey found a lack of cloud skills and expertise is a significant cloud migration challenge for organizations. 34% of IT decision-makers said a lack of cloud security expertise is a major hurdle, but the skills gap goes beyond security. 33% cited a lack of cloud management skills and 30% said they had trouble finding staff with cloud development expertise.

This skill shortage comes as about 80% of organizations have added an average of 3 new functions and roles while investing in their cloud strategy.

Upgrading the skills of your existing teams is certainly beneficial. Investing in robust internal training and promoting continuous learning helps not only with a successful migration but ongoing security and performance. However, this should be a long-term strategy.

In industries with high compliance standards, relying on IT staff without proper certifications can be risky.

Most organizations need to both upskill existing teams and partner with third-party cloud migration experts. Cloud migration consulting can help you make the right decisions, develop a comprehensive strategy, and map out the steps for your migration. Depending on your existing skillset, cloud migration services can even involve taking the lead on the cloud migration process and providing ongoing support.

#5. Downtime

Downtime is one of many challenges of migration that can be mitigated with careful planning. A backup plan with contingencies like a backup environment or disaster recovery cloud services can help you ensure uptime during the cloud migration process and avoid data loss.

Ideally, cloud migrations should be done during times of minimal demand. Make sure data is properly backed up as a network outage can result in data loss. Until the migration is completed, a backup IT environment may be used to run applications, but temporary servers may not be enough to handle user workloads during peak times. Preparing users for reduced capacity and managing workloads can mitigate this.

#6. Complicated Existing Infrastructure

On premise to cloud migration involves moving applications and data storage from on-premise environments to the cloud. Replacing costly and inadequate on-premise legacy systems is one of the top drivers for organizations migrating to the cloud, but complicated existing infrastructure poses its own challenges.

Legacy applications may not be compatible with the cloud or too complex. Replacing, improving, retiring, or retaining these components on-prem may be options, but determining the best strategy and executing it can increase the scope and cost of the migration. Components may also have tricky interdependencies that make it challenging to complete a phased migration.

Careful planning is critical to overcome on premise to cloud migration challenges. Migration is usually done in stages to move specific systems and components to the cloud. During this planning stage, it’s crucial to identify interdependencies and analyze workflows to minimize disruption.

If you lack the skillset within your organization, it’s best to work with cloud migration consultants to perform an in-depth assessment of your existing infrastructure and develop a migration strategy. Cloud migration experts may recommend multiple strategies such as replacing applications with a cloud-based solution and retiring obsolete, unnecessary components to implement robust, cost-effective cloud infrastructure. 

#7. Cloud Vendor Lock-in

Initially, cost, security, and expertise are the chief concerns of IT decision-makers, but other challenges may become more apparent as the migration process unfolds. One of the more easily overlooked cloud migration problems is vendor lock-in. This happens when you are unable to easily move to another vendor in the future without incompatibilities, substantial costs, or other challenges.

When moving applications to the cloud, plan for the future rather than just focusing on the problems you’re solving today. If an application will be developed or optimized for a specific platform, what happens if you begin experiencing significant downtime, the provider increases pricing, or no longer meets your requirements?

The risk of getting locked in can be mitigated by:

  1. Researching cloud vendors including reading their terms of service, fees for migrating to another vendor, and auto-renewals
  2. Watch out for proprietary formatting that prevents you from using your data if you remove it from the cloud
  3. Examine hybrid and multi-cloud solutions that let you maintain control of your data and be less dependent on a single vendor
  4. Make workloads portable and able to support non-proprietary alternatives rather than being based on a vendor’s configurations, APIs, and proprietary technologies

#8. Resistance to Cloud Adoption

An ongoing challenge organizations may face is getting everyone onboard with moving to the cloud. Cloud migrations result in a lot of disruption and change with new processes and systems to which staff must adapt. Resistance to change is natural; teams may have concerns about disruptions and learning new ways to do their work or a lack of knowledge about the process itself.

There are many solutions to overcome this resistance and ensure a successful migration. Prioritize choosing intuitive solutions, especially those that integrate with an existing tech stack that improve efficiency and address pain points. Be sure to invest in resources and training for staff. If people struggle to use new processes and tools, they will likely fall back to familiar solutions. A robust training program overseen by experts gives team members the support they need to understand and adopt the new infrastructure. 

Overwhelmed by Cloud Migration Challenges? A Managed Services Provider Can Help

With so many hurdles to navigate for a successful cloud migration, it’s easy for a migration project to become both more expensive and less beneficial than you expect. The cloud migration experts at Infracore are ready to give your organization the support you need whether it’s filling skill gaps in your existing team or taking the lead on assessment, strategy, migration, and ongoing maintenance. We’ll help you overcome the challenges of migration you are facing so you can take full advantage of the benefits of the cloud.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help your organization streamline workflows, improve security, and reduce costs.