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The key challenges with the cloud

SoftwareOne blog editorial team
Blog Editorial Team
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Cloud services are said to become an almost $300B industry this year. Given the scale of adoption worldwide, this is not surprising. Whether it’s just a few services or a full-scale operation, many companies already use the cloud in some way.The latest technologies offer numerous possibilities to help grow your business and keep you ahead of the competition.But regardless of your adoption stage, or the degree to which you’ve migrated your IT environment, you may come across some difficulties.

The prognosis that came true

Back in 2017, we have written an article on the problems which companies might face when adopting PaaS. It turns out that his predictions became a reality for many organisations.Recently, we have asked our readers across various communication channels about their top areas of concern, based on the feedback from our clients. The results are largely in line with what we originally described: The main cloud migration challenges were, and still are, security, skills, cost-effectiveness and operations. Cloud providers acknowledged these issues and now come equipped with solutions. Let’s review then – what changes does the cloud introduce? What tools does Azure provide to help you mitigate them?

Keeping track of costs

This is still the priority for many businesses. After all, digital services are a considerable investment. You need a way to allocate budgets and then execute them.Of course, if you were to introduce new services on-premises, cloud solutions are still comparably cheaper. Even so, once you have migrated some or all of your applications, it is easy to lose track of the cost.New services, additional subscriptions, unmonitored spending, can all put a strain on your finances. So to make sure you don't get lost, the first step is to follow our recommendation: The best advice is to observe and adjust service levels on the go and keep track of your weekly / monthly use. If you don’t plan to dramatically change what you have, you should be able to keep your weekly / monthly spending on a similar level going forward. Of course, set some budget aside in case your users like the cloud too much and start using it more than you’d expect.But now you can go a step further. In Azure, you can get a complete view of your cloud spending via Azure Cost Management available directly in the Portal. It allows you to create and manage budgets and cost allocations which you can view in interactive Power BI reports. Additional tools like Azure Advisor can help you optimise your costs. For instance, you can receive recommendations for adjusting or removing services you’re not using.As you progress along your cloud journey, you will need more advanced tools to monitor your costs. The good news is, the solutions are already there! 

Ensuring cloud security

Keeping your assets safe will always be crucial. And as increasingly more information is now stored in the cloud, you need to look for new ways to protect it. Let’s go back to the original article:No longer is cutting off the external world a way to secure what you own. You must focus more on:

  • Better identity lifecycle policies – in the dynamic world we live in today, many companies cooperate with customers, vendors, consultants and so on. They all need access to certain data to be able to work efficiently or to have proper services available. (…)
  • Stronger access control management – with data “flying around” across apps, services, APIs and data stores, it’s more challenging than ever to have proper control over who can access which data. (…)
  • Data handling process – since data flows around the internet rather than a tightly controlled company’s internal network, the way it is processed and transferred from place to place, and is accessible to APIs and applications, is becoming more important. (…)

And of course, cyber attacks can and do happen, so you need to be prepared.

Don't worry we brought resources!

Once again, the cloud gives you plenty of tools to implement the appropriate policies and mechanisms. We have described a lot of examples on our own blog. Here are some posts with best practices to get you started:

These are the fundamentals. But as your cloud consumption grows, you’ll need more advanced solutions. With Azure, you can take advantage of services such as Security Center for a complete view and management of your platform protection.And to make sure you don’t miss a thing, there is Azure Sentinel, using AI to offer advanced threat protection.We can help you implement it and take care of the security response for you – check out our Security Services.

Finding the required skills

This was perhaps an underrated concern in the past but has now become quite prominent:Adopting cloud PaaS solutions requires a change in the way we think about operations. They now shift more towards development teams, because no strong infrastructure skills are required anymore. Also, the whole support / operations cycle is shorter when a team that delivered the solution is also included in or even responsible for its operations. The result of this change was the emergence of DevOps as the main approach to development and operations. You can read more about it in our series of articles beginning with this post. Still, one of cloud migration challenges is still the need for upskilling. New solutions require new skills which are not always easy – or possible – to gain quickly. As part of their digital transformation strategy, organisations have to provide relevant, high quality training to their employees. This is not limited just to IT departments, as business users also need to be introduced to new solutions. Gartner recommends that to close that skill gap, many companies turn to a managed services model. It can be an effective way to provide bothsupport and expertise to an organisation’s team. 

Managing cloud operations

When using the cloud, your maintenance workload may be reduced. For instance, SaaS and PaaS solutions will be looked after by your vendor, so there will be less need for routine tasks, such as updating, patching or servicing. However, with some services, such as virtual machines, it is you who needs to make sure your environment can keep up with what you need it to do. And there is more to take care of – as we wrote, you need to consider aspects such as:

  • Monitoring – not on the platform level, but on the solution level. You still want to ensure that whatever you’re building works fine 
  • Access control – who has access where, how you secure your data and how you integrate with external companies and identity providers… You still need to manage all this, now more than ever, as the capabilities extend far beyond your local Active Directory 
  • Backup – not all cloud services have built-in backup capabilities. You’ll need to pay some attention to more advanced data storage technologies 
  • Restore – backups are done automatically but restores, of course, are not
  • Geo-optimisation of services – the cloud enables you to provide your online services globally with ease, but doing that efficiently requires proper planning 
  • Automation – more and more administrative tasks require scripting rather than ‘clicking’ skills, and with cloud services, it’s no different. For agility in services management, automation is key. 

That's a lot of tasks! So, how to make operations easier?

Once again, the cloud comes to the rescue. You should always start with Azure Portal, the one-stop console for managing your services. It helps you set up the tools you need for managing individual aspects of your cloud. From there you can also monitor them to ensure everything is functioning smoothly.For example, you can set up automation which will take care of required updates across your IT environment. Integrating it within your DevOps process is a great way to reduce the risk of errors and keeping your systems compliant. Speaking of compliance, it is as essential as it can be difficult. But here, you can take advantage of Azure Policies. It will help you execute the rules for operating your services in line with your organisation’s regulations and frameworks. And you can do much more – there is a dedicated service for pretty much anything you may need. And vendors continually work on new solutions, so whatever the future may bring, you can be ready for it. Of course, it is up to you to configure and make use of the available services. They won’t be of any benefit if they’re just sitting there!

Cloud migration is a journey. Prepare for challenges!

In our article on cloud strategy, we gave you the key principles for guiding it. If you take your time and plan your steps carefully, you will gain a lot from the transition. Remember though that it is a journey – so don’t be afraid to change course if you need to. And if you have some gaps in your plan, don’t worry. You can still address them and benefit from your shiny new cloud. Over the next few weeks, we will show you how you can build a great plan to manage your cloud. And because we've done it ourselves, you can count on real-life, practical advice, every time! And, of course, you can always get in touch if you’d like to discuss anything in detail – it’s free!


SoftwareOne blog editorial team

Blog Editorial Team

We analyse the latest IT trends and industry-relevant innovations to keep you up-to-date with the latest technology.