Many enterprises were quick to embrace the cloud in its earliest days to realize massive cost savings that were not possible with legacy systems. Email and similar applications were easy to migrate to the cloud and laid the groundwork for infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS). As companies realized how scalable the cloud was, they quickly ramped up the adoption of the two technologies.

However, many skeptics were not as eager to make the move, particularly those with sensitive data and mission-critical applications. Others were concerned about security, privacy, control, and compliance. For some, the perceived reputational risk led to greater hesitation to migrate workloads into the cloud.

However, the tide appears to be turning, with a greater number of enterprises now taking a more serious look at the benefits of moving to the cloud. Though most first look to the cloud as a means to save money, they swiftly realize that the cloud also delivers highly scalable services in a secure environment. It also offers speed and innovation that allowed businesses to respond to their needs quickly.

It’s been said that COVID-19 has served as an accelerant to many emerging trends, and legacy migration is no different. Many physical on-premises infrastructures weren’t designed for remote workforces, and for them, the cloud offers the speed and services more needed in today’s environment.

According to a report from MarketsandMarkets, the global market for application transformation is poised to grow from $9.7 billion to $16.8 billion by 2025, fueled by various factors such as the organization’s need to leverage an agile and responsible infrastructure environment to facilitate efficiency and scalability. The mounting costs of maintaining legacy systems are making the migration to the cloud more sensible.

Service provider Lemongrass recently released a survey asking more than 150 executives about their own goals and challenges of moving legacy systems into the cloud. The data, summarized below, highlights both the possibilities and the pitfalls of these vital projects.

1. Migration Motivation

It shouldn’t surprise readers to know that a whopping 67% of respondents admitted that their primary goal in moving to the cloud was either to secure data or save money. Perhaps slightly more telling is the fact that the former was actually cited by more respondents (39.7%) than the latter (27.2%). So while cost savings is still one of the main reasons for the migration, it’s no longer the most important one.

Of the legacy systems named as being “most likely” to move to the cloud, IT Management was most common (77.5%) and was well ahead of the second most commonly named department (Security). But most amazing was that every other department was named by at least 24% of survey respondents. The cloud is truly reaching its way into every element of the enterprise.

2. Migration Complications

Not all enterprises are ready to take on the bold task of migrating their legacy systems to cloud infrastructure. According to Lemongrass, over 59% of respondents admitted that compliance and security was their biggest challenge as they ensured that no mistakes were made. If something were to go wrong and the data or application were exposed, it could pose a threat to the business.

This was followed up by the long duration of the migration process at 43% and the cost of migration at 37.7%.

The least-cited concern was that available cloud platforms wouldn’t meet the needs of the enterprise, underscoring the fact that moving to the cloud isn’t as much of a concern. Rather, it’s how to do it while keeping potential issues of security and compliance in check.

3. Operating Challenges After Migration

Once migration is complete, the enterprises need to continue working on their security, training, and in-house skills. This is challenging for most IT leaders, with 42% admitting that it’s hard to train end-users on legacy systems that are now running on the cloud.

Moreover, the survey indicates that 40% of IT leaders still had concerns regarding security, even after the migration.

4. Lessons Learned

Organizations that migrated from a legacy system to a cloud platform admit that planning ahead is critical. The IT leaders made a few recommendations for those who want to migrate to the cloud. These include the following:

  • Allow for sufficient time: 54%
  • Allocate enough financial and human resources: 52%
  • Ensure that the right people are overseeing the migration: 52%

Enterprises that are running a legacy system on the cloud echo similar sentiments, with 54% recommending that sufficient time should be given for managing the application, followed by 52% having the right people and skills in-house.

However, not all enterprises have access to the right in-house skill and resources internally. This makes it necessary to educate IT leaders and create awareness about the latest innovations. Companies should invest the time and capital to train their employees. And if they can’t find skills in-house, it makes sense to find help from outside.

5. Most Valuable Skill

68% of the respondents suggested that finding people with the necessary skills, such as testing validation, experience with their chosen cloud platform, and database migration was not easy.

The lack of in-house skills and the need to implement strong security systems led to most enterprises hiring an experienced partner to help them with the migration process. An experienced partner can help businesses better understand and overcome the challenges of complex migrations.

Conclusion: Motivations & Challenges Around Cloud Migration

As this study shows, more enterprises are pursuing a cloud migration, not just because of cost savings, but because of the additional benefits that come along with such projects. Moreover, though half of all migrations take longer and cost more than intended, those in custom software development would be quick to note that metric has improved greatly in the past few years, as teams and platforms continue to up their level of sophistication.

Still, migrating legacy systems to the cloud can be challenging and should be taken seriously. There needs to be a proper amount of planning to minimize the issues faced when moving to the cloud. A key component of moving to the cloud is being clear about the resources and skills available in-house and then bringing an experienced partner on board to navigate the complications bound to arise.

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