Skip to content
Home / Blog / 9 Cloud Migration Challenges & How to Overcome Them

July 24, 2023 | Matt Pacheco

9 Cloud Migration Challenges & How to Overcome Them

Businesses that invest in moving workloads to the cloud open up their environment to new scaling, performance, and innovation opportunities, but the path to the cloud isn’t always cut and dry. Organizations that fail to plan or prepare for cloud migration challenges can find themselves over budget, over time, and ill-equipped to deal with unexpected problems.

We’ll talk about the nine most common cloud migration challenges, and what you can do to address and overcome them.

Why is Cloud Migration Difficult?

Cloud migration is difficult because it’s a complicated process that involves various technical, organizational, and logistical challenges. The type of data being moved, the size of that data, and the differences between the current environment and the new cloud environment all contribute to the complexity. The amount and intricacies of the migration also contribute to the cost of the project. Lack of budget or inadequate allocation of resources can be a major barrier to completing a cloud migration or may lead to compromises in terms of scope or quality.

9 Cloud Migration Challenges

When your organization is preparing for a cloud migration, you may face one or several of these challenges. Becoming aware of these cloud migration challenges before you begin, and learning how to overcome them, will help make your business operations more streamlined.

a picture of the 9 cloud migration challenges

1. Data Security and Compliance Risks

A new environment with a new cloud provider can add fresh security and compliance risks to the mix. While major cloud providers have physical, network, and data security measures in place, they may lack some of the controls you have in an on-premises environment. It’s important to know what providers do and don’t cover when you migrate to the cloud, especially if the data you’re moving is highly sensitive. Conducting a thorough risk assessment and understanding the shared responsibility model between your organization and the cloud provider is crucial for maintaining data security during the migration.

The same goes for compliance. Microsoft Azure, for example, has a long list of compliance offerings. However, you will need to be mindful of additional measures you may need to have in place to be compliant in a new cloud environment, or you may have to look into compliance if the standards you have to follow are not as widely used. Ensuring that your chosen cloud provider meets industry-specific and regulatory compliance requirements is essential to avoid potential legal and financial repercussions.

2. Cost Management and Budgeting

A cloud migration is no simple feat. It requires a dedicated team, lots of planning, and many different types of resources and minds to work well. A data center migration itself can be expensive, but businesses also need to be mindful of the high cloud costs that can come from an unoptimized or unmonitored cloud environment before migration.  Carefully planning a cloud migration is one of the best defenses against uncertain costs. Still, you can encounter unexpected challenges, such as issues with data compatibility, surprise technical problems, or realizing you need to add more resources midway through the project via hiring more people or employing more tools. A good plan can get you close to an accurate estimate, but there are always unknowns in cloud migration.

To decrease the risks of cost overruns and control spend, conduct a comprehensive assessment of the existing infrastructure and applications. This evaluation will help identify potential bottlenecks, compatibility issues, and areas that may require significant changes for successful migration. Additionally, collaborating with an experienced cloud provider’s migration support team can also provide valuable insights and reduce unforeseen expenses.

Implementing cost management strategies during migration is also key. Cloud service providers offer various pricing models, and selecting the most cost-efficient options that align with your company’s needs is crucial. Consider utilizing tools offered by the provider to monitor resource utilization and optimize costs continuously. This includes:

  • Rightsizing instances
  • Setting up automation for resource provisioning and deprovisioning
  • Utilizing cost-saving options like reserved instances or spot

3. Wrong Cloud Migration Strategy

Planning is essential for a successful cloud migration, it can lead to increased costs, prolonged timelines, and potential disruptions to your business operations. A well-planned cloud migration strategy  should include a detailed estimate of the costs, workload prioritization, realistic timeline, and necessary human and technical resources to complete the project. Being fuzzy on any of these points can turn a good cloud strategy bad.

One less-than-ideal strategy involves planning to migrate all  workloads at once. If something goes wrong, you can experience more downtime compared to migrating in stages. A poor strategy can also mean choosing the wrong provider for your needs, which is another common mistake that can lead to difficulties during the migration. Failing to assess your organization’s specific needs and requirements adequately could result in suboptiminal performance or higher costs than necessary. You also need a plan for troubleshooting and testing post-migration, and if you don’t have a plan for this in your strategy, you might not be able to quickly identify and remedy problems.

4. No Internal Capacity to Perform the Cloud Migration

Many companies have had a hard time sourcing help to perform cloud migrations due to IT skills gaps, and the lack of cloud expertise and skills can significantly impede a smooth and successful cloud migration. Migrations involve a complex set of tasks that require in-depth knowledge of cloud technologies, infrastructure, and migration best practices. Without the necessary expertise, organizations may struggle to make informed decisions and execute the migration efficiently.

Skilled cloud professionals can optimize resource utilization, quickly identify and resolve problems, understand the best practices for securing data and applications in the cloud, navigate technical intricacies, identify potential roadblocks, address dependencies, and discover critical success factors. Additionally, engaging with cloud consultants or MSPs with proven expertise can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the migration process.

5. Migration Complexities

Cloud migration is difficult primarily because it’s a complex process. The type of data being moved, the size of the data, and the dependencies that need to be accounted for when moving to a new cloud provider make cloud migration a difficult puzzle to solve.

Some data is incompatible with the cloud and can cause issues if it is not reformatted or restructured prior to the migration. There can also be compatibility issues with hardware and software, or problems with network connectivity. Complexities can also arise from differences in opinion over how cloud migration should be handled.

6. Application Compatibility

Poorly optimized applications, network latency, and inefficient cloud infrastructure are all factors that can contribute to low application performance after cloud migration. Sometimes an application that works great in an on-premises environment experiences a degradation in the cloud. It’s important to identify the root of the issue so performance can be boosted – otherwise, productivity or adoption of the application can lag.

7. Data Transfer and Bandwidth Limitations

Another challenge faced during a cloud migration is transferring large volumes of data from on-premises systems to the cloud environment. When dealing with vast datasets or mission-critical applications, data transfer can take a significant amount of time, leading to potential delays and increased downtime.

The data transfer process heavily relies on the available network bandwidth. If your internet connection or network infrastructure has limited capacity, it can significantly slow down the migration processs. To overcome bandwidth limitations, organizations need to implement efficient data migration strategies. This might involve using incremental data transfers, prioritizing critical data, or employing data compression techniques to optimize the use of available bandwidth.

8. Cultural Resistance to Change

Even when everything goes right, organizations can face significant cultural resistance to change. Team members who are used to legacy systems may be resistant to moving their work processes to a cloud provider, simply because it’s not what they’re used to doing.

To address resistance effectively, proactively manage change and communication throughout the migration process. Early involvement and engagement of end-users in the planning and decision-making stages can foster a sense of ownership and inclusion, making them more receptive to the changes. Identifying “champions” among the team members who are enthusiastic about the cloud and it’s potential benefits can be instrumental in encouraging others to embrace the new environment.

Additionally, a phased approach to migration can also help reduce resistance. By gradually transitioning workloads and applications to the cloud, companies can give team members time to adapt and gain confidence in the new environment.

9. Legacy Systems Migration

Legacy systems often rely on outdated technologies, programming languages, or proprietary protocols that are not inherently compatible with modern cloud platforms. With that, migrating legacy applications and integrating legacy systems with the cloud can be tricky. Why? More often than not, they require considerable modifications and adaptations to ensure smooth communication and data. They also may lack the powerful security features and encryption mechanisms found in today’s cloud platforms, and may be have complex interdependencies with other applications or databases. Migrating and integrating these interconnected components to the cloud requires meticulous planning to avoid disruptions and maintain a cohesive system while keeping sensitive data secure.

When integrating legacy systems with the cloud, it’s crucial to perform rigorous testing and validation. Additionally, to address potential challenges before they arise, during the planning phase, it’s essential to conduct an in-depth assessment of legacy applications, including their architecture, data, and dependencies to uncover integration points and compatibility errors early. Consider refactoring or modernizing applications to make them cloud-friendly and compatible with the cloud environment.

an infographic showing the migration challenges with legacy systems

Overcoming Cloud Migration Challenges

One of the best things you can do to overcome challenges associated with cloud migration is to plan, and plan well. Before you start migrating to the cloud, your organization should have a clear understanding of the scope of the project, the desired timeline to complete it, what it will cost in labor and budget, and what risks or pitfalls you might encounter. Because of how intricate the process can be, many companies can benefit from outside services and expertise.

Conquer Your Cloud Migration Challenges With TierPoint Managed Cloud Services

TierPoint has faced every one of these cloud migration challenges, and then some, many times over. Because we’ve seen just about everything, we’re able to help organizations that are about to embark on cloud migration and may not know what to expect. We can help you plan for now and for the future, leveraging cloud migration to accelerate your growth and innovation.

Interested in exploring how to improve your cloud strategy? Download our Journey to the Cloud eBook to get started.


What are the 3 biggest challenges in your experience when migrating to Azure?

When migrating to Azure, businesses need to be mindful of the cost of the project, the time it will take to migrate, and security differences between an on-premise environment and a cloud environment.

What are the key challenges involved in AWS cloud migration?

Moving data smoothly, ensuring security and compliance measures are met, and migrating data effectively are all key challenges in AWS cloud migration.

Subscribe to the TierPoint blog

We’ll send you a link to new blog posts whenever we publish, usually once a week.