Moving to the cloud: Top challenges organizations face

A lack of the necessary skills is the largest hurdle, though there are others, according to a new study from training company O'Reilly.

The biggest cloud security challenges enterprises face At RSA 2019, Brian Roddy of Cisco discussed what CISOs should include in a cloud security plan.

Businesses looking to implement cloud-based technology and infrastructure face a host of challenges, according to a study released Tuesday by O'Reilly.

Among the 590 IT managers and executive CXOs surveyed for the study, almost 70% said their organizations have already adopted or at least started to adopt a cloud-based infrastructure. But the effort isn't necessarily smooth sailing, as companies must contend with several barriers to adoption.

SEE: Special report: The cloud v. data center decision (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Almost 50% of the respondents pointed to a lack of skills as their top challenge in implementing cloud-based infrastructures. Migrating from legacy architecture was next on the list, cited by 45% of those polled. Respondents also identified security and compliance issues, managing their technical infrastructure, transforming their corporate culture, budget issues, and hiring as primary barriers.

A lack of skills scored much higher than did hiring issues, indicating that organizations are trying to adopt cloud technologies on their own, rather than bringing in more engineers and workers from the outside. Further, challenges over security and compliance are less prominent than they were a few years ago, according to O'Reilly, as some of the issues here have since been resolved. But this is still an area that demands attention from organizations.

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Source: O'Reilly

The survey also examined how companies are implementing cloud-based technologies. Some 40% of respondents said they use a hybrid cloud architecture, as some data cannot be hosted on a public cloud. In many cases, a hybrid approach serves as an interim step for organizations when migrating to a cloud architecture.

Some 48% of respondents said they use a multi-cloud strategy by working with two or more more vendors. This type of approach prevents organizations from being locked into any one provider, and gives them access to certain proprietary features offered by a specific vendor. Further, 47% of the respondents in organizations that have already adopted a cloud infrastructure said their their DevOps teams were responsible for managing it.

What of companies that have yet to adopt a cloud infrastructure? Among the 30% of respondents in this category, most cited a lack of skills as the main barrier. Others pointed to company culture, migration from legacy systems, technical infrastructure, and security and compliance as the primary obstacles. Among these respondents, almost 30% said they expect to adopt a cloud infrastructure within the next two years, while 27% said they have no plans to do so at this point.

Finally, the report offered the following takeaways for organizations looking into a cloud infrastructure or in the early stages of implementation:

  • Cloud native success comes empirically. Don't try to overhaul your entire architecture at once. Start small and focus on high-impact services that show clear value to build internal support for investing in the ongoing transition.
  • It's best to manage expectations. Focus on learning from, and building on, your early cloud native efforts.
  • Take advantage of training opportunities, including social learning via conferences where you can gain access to best practices from those with the most cloud native experience.

To learn more, check out Cloud computing: Five ways to make the most of the move to on-demand on our sister site ZDNet.

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By Lance Whitney

Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books—one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.