How to avoid the six big pitfalls in cloud transformation

With 70% of cloud migration projects failing to achieve their goals, organisations must address security, performance, standards, skills shortages, and cost controls to achieve success.

How to avoid the six big pitfalls in cloud transformation

With 70% of cloud migration projects failing to achieve their goals, organisations must address security, performance, standards, skills shortages, and cost controls to achieve success.

Bruno Fleisch
Bruno FleischHead of Compute, Europe, BT

Organisations are clear on the benefits of the cloud: cost savings, flexibility, rapid implementation, easy collaboration, a strong competitive edge – the list goes on.

Unfortunately, realising these benefits is not just a case of flicking a switch; cloud transformation is a journey, and there are challenges at every stage.

The bad news is that 70% of cloud migration projects fail to achieve their return on investment or deliver the desired outcomes1. So, where can it all go wrong, and what are the pitfalls organisations need to watch out for?

Unlocking success in cloud transformation

1. Security fortification

Security is one of the main reasons why cloud projects fail. As you move IT outside the traditional walls of your carefully secured premises, your attack surface increases. Organisations fail to carry out a complete review of their security policies and governance and don’t use new technologies to build strong defences

2. Embracing a new operating model

Getting the right operating model for managing applications in the cloud is critical for the success of cloud projects. Remember that cloud technologies develop applications in a very different, agile, way. This takes a new infrastructure, management policies, and a DevOps practice.

3. Crafting the perfect ‘cloud landing zone’

The right landing zone makes sure you have the underlying core configuration you need for your cloud adoption environment. It delivers standardisation, automation for repeatability, security policies, deployment and management designs, and networking principles to build the solid foundations that de-risk migrations at scale. Getting this right can be a challenge; it’s a complex process, and organisations often face a skills shortage or haven’t got good practices built by experience on similar projects to refer back to.

4. Financial precision

Cloud resources are highly dynamic by nature and their consumptions and costs can fluctuate a lot over time. Costs will sprawl out of control if you don’t create a proper model to monitor finances, predict future consumptions, identify potential savings, and share costs across the different internal business entities.

5. Contextual clarity

It’s vital to understand your current environment and applications estate to prepare for a successful migration journey. You need to define your approach across your organisation and bring together all the different technologies that used to be designed and operated in isolation.

Organisations often struggle to find the right skills for this task internally, so it can be missed out.

6. Leadership-driven cloud adoption

Working effectively in a new cloud paradigm means adjusting IT, operations, finance, legal, and development teams - even HR in some cases. As a result, any attempt to adopt cloud in a bottom-up approach is likely to deliver poor results. A great way to overcome this issue is to make the cloud agenda a board priority to drive organisational alignment through sponsorship, resources, and funding.

The importance of being ready for hybrid and multi-cloud

Cloud’s not just located in hyperscalers’ premises. It spans a wide range of different locations: from customer data centers and edge sites to network operators’ facilities to name just a few. It can also be embedded in an environment that has intermittent or no network connectivity, such as in vehicles or ships. We find that our customers tend to use different cloud providers to address different use cases and choose different locations to run their workloads.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all cloud solution, and this adds a complexity that can trip up unwary organisations. You’ll want to implement a variety of use cases, and so you’ll need to create more complex solutions that must integrate different solutions and different technologies.

The challenge of unleashing cloud's full potential

Even technologically advanced clients struggle to harness the full benefits of the cloud.

It’s a complex challenge to optimise application performances and reliability, as well as reducing costs and implementing a ‘cloud financial culture’ (FinOps). It’s also increasingly difficult to cope with the speed of innovation and the rate which cloud vendors are introducing new services. AWS, for instance, has a wide portfolio of more than 175 products and services for cloud and adds new services every month.

However, these new technologies and innovations are critical to maximising the real benefits of the cloud. Using these services is key to further optimising applications that were just ‘lifted and shifted’ from legacy platforms. But organisations that postpone these modernisations often accumulate deficits – a so-called ‘technology debt’ – that lead to more cost and lower performance in the long run.

Journey progression: where are you?

Identifying your current transition stage aids in defining an action plan:

Stage 1 – Exploring

You’re planning your move to the cloud with various stakeholders in your organisation. Your priorities are to de-risk the migration and create a compelling business case for transformation.

Stage 2 – Implementing

You’re setting up an effective organisation and the appropriate technical foundations to standardise and automate your cloud deployments. 

Stage 3 – Transforming

You’re migrating at scale, using public or private clouds, central platforms or sites at the Edge. You’re executing your business strategy and relying on the landing zones you defined in the previous steps.

Stage 4 – Improving

This is a never-ending phase where you continuously seek to improve performance, agility, and availability while reducing costs.

Next steps: guided transformation with us

Our experts are available to advise you on how to move to the next stage of your transformation journey.

Smart Transformation workshops are strategy sessions delivered by consultants and cloud experts to customer executives and board members. These sessions focus on the business outcomes delivered by cloud-based transformations and outline the business cases for these projects.

Modernisation Blueprints look at how you can improve your applications to take advantage of new cloud services such as containers, micro-services, and SaaS equivalent - amongst many other technologies. And it’s worth noting that our cost optimisations services help customers discover savings opportunities with their current cloud provider that, on average, reduces their cloud bill by 25%.


  1.  ISG, December 2020, Planning a Robust OCM.