The cold reality of cloud migration

The biggest barrier to cloud adoption is not the technology.
By Tiana Cline, Contributor
Johannesburg, 06 Mar 2024
Gary Peel, Fortinet
Gary Peel, Fortinet

While the cloud can be a great alternative to outdated and inefficient legacy infrastructure, it’s not always easy to move. It can sometimes feel like a game of musical chairs, trying to decide where to place your workloads. The process is both complex and costly, requiring a significant investment of time and resources. Stumbling blocks include data privacy and security – organisations need to safeguard sensitive information and ensure compliance with data protection regulations.

Making the move

Cloud calls for a different set of skills within the IT department. According to Fortinet’s Cloud Security Report for 2023, the biggest barrier to migration is not technology. Most of the respondents Fortinet surveyed said they weren’t ready for cloud adoption because of a lack of technical skills, and a lack of qualified staff. “With the global market becoming more competitive, South Africa is losing a lot of its security engineers to global opportunities, creating a deficit in local talent,” says Gary Peel, Cloud BDM, Africa, Fortinet.

In South Africa, the cloud computing market is moving at a healthy pace and is expected to reach R79.7 billion by 2027. In The biggest barrier to cloud adoption is not the technology. fact, 35.8% of South African businesses have over 50% of their workloads in the cloud, according to a local survey conducted by Fortinet of 500 CTOs, directors, C-suite respondents, and business owners. “South Africa may be a late adopter, but most of our customers are already using some kind of cloud technology. Industries like financial services are leading the way. They understand the value of the cloud and how it supports rapid innovation in a cost-effective manner, even though their industry is the most stringent regarding compliance,” says Peel.

Old Mutual, for example, completed its migration to AWS in June last year. The cold reality of cloud migration The financial services group successfully closed its on-premises datacentres and shifted its entire information technology infrastructure (over 2 000 servers, 215 applications, 1 786 databases, and 500 websites) to the cloud. May Govender, the company’s acting CIO, says server outages, disconnected financial products and on-premise costs have been left behind. “Our AWS digital infrastructure has become the backbone of reliable service.”

Collaboration between the cloud and security teams means overcoming a clash of cultures.

Gary Peel, Fortinet

More recently, Vodacom Business, the enterprise arm of Vodacom Group, added HPE GreenLake to its portfolio in an attempt to make multicloud migration simpler for its customers. To help with the move, Vodacom Business has included HPE Zerto, which is known to be one of the quickest multicloud migration solutions.

Cloud migration, whether from an on-premises environment or between cloud providers, involves risks like unplanned downtime, data loss, security vulnerabilities and project delays. Cloud migration tools – like Azure Migrate, AWS Application Migration Service, and Google Cloud’s Migration Center – help to remove complexities and ensure a more secure transition.

A clash of cultures

“Getting the right people in the organisation to manage and secure the cloud platform is often an issue,” says Peel. “Collaboration between the cloud and security teams means overcoming a clash of cultures. The security team is viewed as the legacy team, and the cloud team wants to keep pace with business demands. But they need to work together to keep the company’s data secure rather than be reactive after a data breach.”

Peel believes that planning is integral to the success of cloud migration. “Having the right frameworks in place is key to creating secure cloud platforms and ensuring network governance. These frameworks can also include aspects such as identity and access management policies. Without a framework in place, you’re working with a messy and complex data environment. It’s important to create a culture of cost and security ownership to successfully migrate to the cloud.”


Migrating to the cloud is a complex process that requires careful planning and preparation if you want to avoid unexpected issues or delays. The best way to ensure a successful cloud migration is by assessing readiness – this will help you choose the correct migration method. While Gartner originally came up with the five Rs in 2010, AWS introduced an additional two.

Here are the seven Rs to help you determine the best approach to cloud migration:

1. Rehost

Rehosting, also known as lift and shift, entails migrating workloads to a cloud instance without altering code, using Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). This method suits rapid migration, preserving operational constructs for simplicity without requiring extensive cloud-native expertise.

2. Relocate

Relocating involves seamless migration of workloads to cloud platforms (like Kubernetes) without major changes. This strategy minimises downtime and operational expenses, making it efficient for enterprises aiming to migrate without disrupting ongoing operations.

3. Replatform

Replatforming moves applications to the cloud with optimisations, maintaining code and architecture. This strategy boosts flexibility, agility, and integrates cloud-native capabilities without requiring extensive code rewriting. It saves time, costs, and improves application agility.

4. Refactor

Refactoring, the most complex migration option, involves re-architecting workloads to support cloud-native capabilities. Despite the significant investment, this strategy future-proofs applications, enabling advanced features like serverless computing and autoscaling. Breaking down monolithic structures into microservices enhances automation and reduces operating costs.

5. Repurchase

Repurchasing swaps internally administered systems for third-party cloud managed services. It aids in retiring legacy systems and moving to a consumption- based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscription model. This strategy enhances application performance and user experience while minimising operational overheads.

6. Retain

Retaining involves keeping applications on-premises when migration isn’t feasible due to compliance, regulatory requirements, or immediate business value considerations. This strategy is advised when dependent applications need migration first or when an immediate business case for migration is not apparent.

7. Retire

Retiring decommissions applications that are no longer needed, reducing IT infrastructure costs. This is effective for eliminating obsolete or inefficient applications, streamlining resources, and improving efficiencies.


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