Cloud integration challenges highlight value of IT management

From the federal government to international enterprises to small businesses, cloud computing is now a dominant force. Cloud services have, by this point, fully proven their value, and organization leaders realize they must embrace these resources in order to maximize value and performance.

Yet as countless public and private sector firms have already realized, there are significant hurdles that must be overcome before the cloud can deliver positive results. Critically, organizations must develop strategies for effectively pursuing cloud integration and migration. To this end, expertise is essential, making third-party IT management services invaluable.

Cloud integration challenges
To better understand these challenges, consider a recent CDW survey of 1,200 IT professionals. Among respondents, just shy of three-fifths said they would like to increase their use of cloud resources, but are unable to do so because integration efforts are too complex. Cost was another factor: Many respondents indicated that while the cloud services themselves were affordable, the cost of integrating with legacy IT solutions was much higher. More than half of these IT professionals said their cloud financial prediction models were ultimately off by more than 10 percent. 

"On average, companies' initial cloud implementations required 14 weeks to complete."

The CDW study also emphasized that many organizations' cloud migrations have proven time-consuming. On average, companies' initial cloud implementations required 14 weeks to complete. Future implementations tended to take six to 10 weeks.

None of this diminishes the effectiveness of cloud solutions once they are up and running. However, these IT professionals' experiences demonstrate just how difficult, costly and lengthy these efforts can prove to be. 

Hybrid issues
The issue of cloud integration and migration becomes even more complex when organizations pursue hybrid cloud options. The hybrid cloud is increasingly becoming the standard approach, and with good reason. With a hybrid strategy, firms can utilize private clouds for the most sensitive information and operations while taking advantage of the public cloud for all other hosted needs. This is particularly invaluable for government agencies that, for security reasons, may otherwise be unprepared to embrace cloud solutions whatsoever.

Yet as industry expert Eddie Cole asserted for Data Center Knowledge, hybrid cloud integration presents even greater challenges than single-cloud approaches. For one thing, the writer emphasized that data migrations become more complex when multiple private and public cloud environments serve as the end goals. 

Even more important is the question of security. Cole explained that integration and security are, in a sense, diametrically opposed. The challenge that cloud integration efforts face is ensuring that data remains protected both while it is being moved and once it is fully integrated. The complex nature of a hybrid cloud deployment makes this a difficult goal to achieve.

"Third-party cloud integration experts should play a role in any company's cloud adoption efforts."

Integration expertise
These obstacles should not be seen as arguments against pursuing cloud integration, hybrid or otherwise. Instead, these factors highlight the notion that third-party cloud integration experts should play a role in any company's cloud adoption efforts. The fact of the matter is that most organizations, be they public or private sector, will not have the expertise or resources in-house necessary to execute cloud integration and migration efforts smoothly, quickly, securely and with minimal costs.

The biggest challenge that organization leaders face, then, is finding the right cloud integration partner. Specifically, firms should look for third-party cloud integration service providers that have developed robust, demonstrable experience in this specific area. The ideal IT management provider will have a proven track record of migrating applications, data and services into cloud environments, and then overseeing the operation and upgrade of these operations. For government agencies, choosing an IT management partner with public sector experience is particularly critical.