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January 11, 2022 | Ryan Collins

9 Steps to Avoid Cloud Migration Pitfalls with Legacy Apps

While almost every business has at least some workloads in the cloud, many still maintain an on-premises data center to support their legacy applications. Legacy on-prem data centers are struggling to support growing businesses. To achieve their business objectives, many are now turning to a provider’s cloud to solve for this roadblock, only to encounter another unexpected challenge, specifically the pitfalls of cloud migration.

The cloud has become a highly trusted environment, even for mission-critical applications. Many business leaders are looking to migrate and modernize the last of their legacy applications to the cloud, so they can finally shutter their on-premises data centers. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of enterprises will close their traditional data centers.

What are the most common cloud migration pitfalls related to legacy apps?

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Hope for the best. Plan for the worst.” When it comes to legacy data center migrations, hope is not a long-term strategy. While there are many benefits of cloud environments, the cloud requires proper planning to avoid pitfalls, large and small, that can crop up.

Here are nine cloud migration pitfalls you’ll want to avoid when migrating applications out of your legacy data center.

1. Choosing the wrong cloud

This first common cloud migration pitfall is especially an issue when you’re using the lift and shift approach. If you’ve got a legacy application that was built in the mainframe days, you probably aren’t going to want to move it to a hyperscale cloud platform like AWS (Amazon Web Services) or Microsoft’s Azure. Your best bet is most likely a private, hosted cloud that most closely resembles the application’s native environment and allows you to keep the greatest control over the environment and the application.

Also read: 6 Things to Expect When You Move to the Cloud

2. Migrating when you should refactor or replace

Lift and shift often looks like the path of least resistance compared to refactoring or replacing. Nevertheless, it still takes effort, and you may not be taking full advantage of cloud services. If your legacy applications are a legacy in every sense, it may be time to at least consider an upgrade or replacement. It’s hard to see organizations devote time and effort to migrating an application that’s an albatross around their neck simply because “it still works.”

3. Forgetting to review application licensing

While you’re focusing on the technical aspects of cloud migration strategies, it’s easy to forget about your application licensing. You’ll want to review the fine print to ensure there are no issues with the way you’ll be accessing your application via cloud computing. If you’re thinking of upgrading your legacy application to a cloud-native version, you’ll also want to review the way the application is priced. Newer, cloud-native applications often have a very different pricing structure than their on-prem predecessors.

4. Not sunsetting applications

Every organization has applications they’ve invested in that have become obsolete or are rarely used. Culling those applications can simplify your migration process. Start by doing an inventory of your applications and evaluating their value to the organization. Of course, you’ll want to get your business users involved in this process, so you don’t inadvertently sunset any applications, no matter how old, that are still vital to the business.

5. Forgetting interdependencies

Mission-critical business applications often allow for easy integration with point solutions and custom development, but that results in workload interdependencies spread across servers. If you migrate one without the other, you can break those connections and end up with extended downtime. This common cloud migration pitfall can be addressed with a tool to evaluate interdependencies and help to group workloads and servers into successful migration phases.

6. Migrating messy data

If you’ve ever moved from a home that you’ve lived in for a while, you know how quickly old documents can pile up. When a colleague helped her parents move recently, she ran across tax documents from the 1960s! Your historical business records can pile up just as quickly, and some of them are just as useless. As with sunsetting applications, you can streamline your migration by cleaning up your data and archiving whatever doesn’t need to be migrated.

7. Not factoring in the amount of data when choosing your migration method

Your connectivity and bandwidth can create problems when migrating a lot of data, leading to excessive downtime. I had one client with so much data it would have taken months for them to migrate with the bandwidth they had available.

8. Underestimating your human bandwidth

For most organizations, migrating legacy applications and data centers to a cloud-based environment is no small undertaking. It takes time and a whole lot of planning, usually by people who already have a full plate. Furthermore, the migration itself tends to be done at night and on weekends. Often, our clients engage us in their migration efforts, not because they don’t know how to do it, but simply because they don’t have the human bandwidth to get it done right.

9. Failing to plan for disaster recovery

This cloud migration pitfall is twofold. First, you need a plan for what to do if the migration goes awry. An up-to-date disaster recovery (DR) plan (that’s been tested) is a must-have. Then, before you migrate a single workload, you’ll also want to update your DR plan to include your new environment as well. That plan should kick in as soon as the first phase goes live.

Read our Strategic Guide to Disaster Recovery and DRaaS to learn more about DR planning.

Avoid cloud migration pitfalls with an experienced provider

There is no one-size-fits-all IT infrastructure solution. At TierPoint, we’ve helped clients with the cloud migration process, cloud hosting, cloud security, and more. We’ve managed countless legacy workloads to a variety of different environments, including hybrid cloud environments.

If you’re unsure about taking your legacy data center and migrating to the cloud or want assistance with planning or execution, we’re here to help. You can reach out to one of our advisors or learn more about our migration services on our website.

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