Adopting cloud technologies like Microsoft Azure comes with its unique set of challenges, even for the most experienced IT leaders. The extensive features available and complexities of cloud migration can often seem like an uphill battle, however its potential to improve business operations and enhance performance can’t be ignored. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the most significant challenges organisations may face in Azure adoption, and discuss how they can be overcome.
Top six challenges in Azure adoption
As organisations embrace the power of cloud computing with Azure, they often encounter various challenges that hinder their ability to fully leverage its benefits. Here are those key obstacles with solutions:
Challenge 1: defining a clear cloud strategy
A cloud strategy defines motivations and business outcomes for cloud adoption, it should validate and maintain alignment between business priorities and cloud adoption efforts, tying technical activities to the business outcomes. However, many organisations lack a clear strategy, which can lead to overspending, unnecessary complexity, and the inability to leverage the full benefits of Azure.
IT leaders must create a clear strategy, which includes identifying their goals, selecting the right Azure services that align with their business objectives, and determining the best way to implement the platform. It is also important to consider factors such as security, compliance, and data management when developing a cloud strategy.
The Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) is a set of best practices and guidelines designed to help businesses adopt cloud computing, specifically Azure, in a structured and organised manner. The framework provides a comprehensive set of guidelines, tools, and processes to help organisations successfully adopt Azure and realise its full potential.
Challenge 2: continuous innovation
Many organisations invest heavily into their initial migration, however Azure needs continual investment into innovation. This is achieved by adopting an Evergreen approach. Evergreen IT will only be successful if the company undergoes a company-wide organisational shift towards managing processes in an agile way – this is essential.
Organisations with a flat hierarchy, short approval processes, and a culture within both IT and user communities that quickly adapt and embrace change succeed most.
The best way organisations can adopt the Evergreen approach is to give IT teams the time and budget to focus on innovation rather than just maintenance.
The benefits of Evergreen IT include:
- Systems are always up to date
- Budgets are predictable: organisations know exactly how much they will need to spend next month or in six months
- Lower maintenance efforts and costs; Gartner estimated a 79% cost reduction when upgrading in an evergreen environment compared to infrequent big-bang updates
- Significant decreases in cyber security risks as new security and compliance products, features, and services are continually released
- Faster access to new features and fewer interruptions caused by major infrequent updates leads to happier users and improved productivity
Challenge 3: optimising costs
Cost is a common factor that prevents organisations adopting Azure. This is often caused from a lack of awareness of price efficiencies including:
- Right sizing
- Reserved instances
- Azure hybrid benefit
- Auto shutdown
In Azure you pay for what you use, so it's important to only use what's needed. On top of right sizing your environment, you can also greatly reduce the cost of your infrastructure with the use of Reserved Instances (RI) and Azure hybrid benefit.
When moving resources into the cloud, organisations need to balance their priorities to ensure their technologies meet business requirements from a security, performance, and cost perspective. Azure is customisable so that it can be adjusted to meet different needs, however alignment needs to be continually checked to manage costs. Azure Advisor can help overcome this, providing consistent recommendations for cost improvements.
Challenge 4: keeping up with new features
The Azure platform is constantly evolving and releasing new features and capabilities. Although this helps to keep your environment secure in a modern world, it can be challenging to stay current and maintain best practice.
Microsoft maintain and publish a feature roadmap, which is a great resource for staying up to date. By investing time in staying on top of new cloud functionality, IT teams can take advantage of cutting-edge releases and get ahead. With security threats changing and growing all the time, it’s also important to ensure you’ve implemented the latest security features.
Challenge 5: lack of expertise
Often organisations move to the cloud without first taking a step back to upskill or hire talent with the skills and expertise to deploy and manage Azure to best practice standards.
Organisations might also work with a Microsoft partner to deploy Azure in the right way, however if this is just for the deployment, the internal IT team are not involved in the journey so are not ready to support the environment once the deployment is complete. To overcome this, organisations should either undergo significant investment to upskill and maintain an internal IT team, or you can outsource part or all of your cloud services to an experienced partner.
A proven way of expanding your employees’ cloud skills is by developing a cloud centre of excellence within your company. Encourage those who are the furthest ahead in their cloud journey to form the core of this and use it to encourage your other employees in their reskilling journey. An assessment of current and future business needs, a transformation of organisational culture, and an identification of key skills gaps are needed to overcome initial cloud adoption hurdles.
Challenge 6: lack of automation
Without automation, teams will always be busy with break fix activities, meaning they won’t have the capacity to focus on innovation and adoption of new features. Organisations should adopt the mentality that if a task is going to be repeated, it will be worth investing the time into automating it. For example, if a deployment or bug needs to be manually remediated and will be repeated, time should be allocated to automate this so it never needs to be manually fixed again.
Do you need help optimising your Azure environment? Advanced can perform an Azure Optimisation Review, which will help assess your security posture, get costs under control, help ensure efficient scalability and validate your position against best practice.
Or, if you’re just looking to start your cloud journey, we can provide a Strategy and Governance Workshop which will help accelerate your journey to Microsoft Azure by looking at your cloud adoption strategy, best practices, CAF alignment, and a design and technical architecture review.
If you’re interested in either of the above engagements, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.