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Cloud migration costsHelping migrate applications into the cloud has been a boon to managed service providers. But a new survey of 500 IT decision makers conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Virtustream, the cloud service provider arm of Dell Technologies, suggests the size and scope of that opportunity is being limited by the costs associated with making those cloud migrations.

The survey finds that 41 percent of respondents said rewriting applications is too time-consuming and expensive. Another 33 percent cited data transfer costs between on-premise data centers and the cloud and a resulting increase in database licenses as the biggest obstacles. Respondents also pointed to the costs associated with support services (31 percent) and the need to acquire additional talent (27 percent). Finally, rounding out the top-five inhibitors is the fact it’s too costly to engage a service provider to make a mass migration of their applications (25 percent).

Pace of cloud migrations

Because of all these issues, only 31 percent of respondents said they were engaging in a mass migration of applications to the cloud. The rest were either migrating specific classes of applications such as those deemed noncritical or evaluating the merits of migrating each application on a case-by-case basis. All told, nearly half the respondents (47 percent) say they have teams of 50 people or more working on cloud migrations.

At this juncture, the study finds that 44 percent of workloads have moved to the public cloud. A total of 62 percent of workloads are expected to be running in a public cloud within the next two years. That suggests the rate at which applications have been migrating to the cloud is not likely to increase substantially. When it comes to migrating applications to the cloud, progress tends to be more steady than rapid.

Uncovering MSP opportunities

MSPs, of course, are trying to balance two opposing interests. On the one hand, they could lower their migration services costs in a bid to increase volume. But, achieving that goal while maintaining profit margins can be a significant challenge. There’s still no easy button when it comes to migrating an existing application into a public cloud. In fact, the survey suggests that workloads will be running on premises and in the cloud for years to come.

That means the next great opportunity for MSPs is going to be managing multi-cloud computing environments. The survey finds that 68 percent of the respondents rely on more than a single mega-cloud service provider such as Amazon Web Services. Most of those clouds are managed in isolation from one another, but there will come a day when customers want to apply a single management plane to rule them all. Only then will true hybrid cloud computing be achieved.

In the meantime, MSPs need to gauge the appetite an organization has for migrating applications to the cloud. There’s no doubt there’s demand. But, many business and IT leaders are reluctant to share why they may be willing to migrate one application but not another — especially if such disclosures would reveal an organizational weakness. The trick is to ask just enough probing questions to identify the types of applications an organization is willing to migrate based on their previous cloud migration experiences and costs.

Chances are if they’re looking to engage an MSP they’ve already had a least one bad experience doing it themselves. Determining the root cause of that bad experience should be job one for any MSP aiming to turn a cloud migration engagement into a mutually beneficial relationship. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of time before one issue or another raises its ugly head at the most inopportune moment.

Photo: Dimj/Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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