Many businesses have adopted cloud computing as a way to store and manage their data. But others have not done so yet because the shift isn't always simple; IT departments often struggle with the transition, creating an internal barrier within the company.
According to Softchoice, a provider of IT solutions and managed services, several issues arise among IT teams trying to make the conversion to the cloud. Based on a recent survey of senior IT decision makers and line-of-business (LOB) managers, the following challenges stand in the way of successful cloud migration.
Lack of proper tools and processes. To adapt to the cloud, IT departments need the right supplies and strategies to support new initiatives. Softchoice found that 42 percent of IT teams lack the tools necessary to help their company grow, and half of IT leaders have had to delay a task due to a resource deficiency.
Craig McQueen, director of Softchoice's Microsoft practice, said IT departments often have barely enough resources to support their company and to compensate for the hectic transition process.
"They can struggle just to keep operations running smoothly and meet user expectations of existing applications and computing resources," McQueen said. "They barely have enough time to be reactive to the organization." [See Related Story: Cloud Storage Solutions for Small Business]
Skill gaps. Teams may lack not only the necessary tools and resources but also the skills required to make the transition to the cloud. In fact, 53 percent of IT leaders struggle with new cloud initiatives because they don't have the necessary skills. Training is not viewed as a priority, either, according to nearly 50 percent of respondents, and without training, skill gaps are far more prevalent.
No strategy. Strategy is key, but about half of the IT leaders surveyed said their teams struggle to create an effective one, while the other half said they lack one entirely. This makes for a complicated process, especially in such a critical time of conforming. Having a step-by-step game plan eases the process into effect, McQueen said.
High costs. Many business leaders think that cloud spending is out of control. Nearly 60 percent of the IT leaders surveyed reported exceeding cloud budgets, and 44 percent said they struggle to hold LOB managers accountable for cloud spending.
Making the transition easier
McQueen said it is exceptionally difficult for IT departments to keep up with the transition to the cloud, given their conditions.
"Innovation requires you to be proactive," he said. "They just don't have the time for it. Additionally, any new system introduced as a result of innovation means even more operational management responsibilities for IT."
To ensure a successful migration, IT leaders should understand what they are capable of based on their products, services, budget, skill sets and other factors. Based on these findings, they should form a strategy and plan their future steps and goals. The insight gleaned during this audit phase will inform an organization's big-picture cloud strategy, McQueen said.
Training is also essential for IT teams to learn new skills, and will make the transition smoother, McQueen said. Addressing skill gaps allows businesses to identify the problem areas and hopefully work toward a solution, he said.
"Allocating additional funds for human capital doesn't necessarily mean recruiting from the outside," McQueen told Business News Daily. "Depending on an organization's size and current IT staff, it may make more sense to provide training, mentorship or certifications that bring existing employees up to speed."
Finally, businesses should closely monitor their financial data to make sure they are not overspending on cloud migration, McQueen advised.
"As the lines of business receive their own budgets to procure cloud services, spending can fluctuate widely and — if not monitored closely — lead to costly surprises," he said. "To minimize the risk of exceeding budgets, organizations need ... visibility into who's using which cloud services, how and when."
With communication and teamwork, businesses and their IT departments can solve their issues and work toward a productive migration together, said David MacDonald, president and CEO of Softchoice.
"Embracing the cloud marks a turning point for IT leaders in how they augment their teams, manage budget and collaborate across their organizations," MacDonald said in a statement. "The transition, however, is complex, and organizations need to carefully assemble the right strategy, people and processes in order to unlock the public cloud's diverse benefits."