Cloud migration

The true business challenges of Oracle cloud migration

In Database, Technical Focus by Nymad

IaaS or PaaS has gradually become an increasingly viable option for database management. The decision facing many Oracle database users now is not if but when is the opportune moment to switch to a cloud solution. Then comes the difficult part: Choosing whose cloud is best!

We’ve seen a great deal of hesitation when it comes to cloud migrations, mainly to do with a lack of genuine migration incentives, but this is gradually changing. Oracle is responding to the market’s lack of enthusiasm by making the benefits of a shift more attractive.

However, the challenges of change remain difficult for many businesses to overcome. We have identified these four areas as being the most important aspects to address.

The 4 true challenges of transitioning from on premise Oracle to the cloud

  1. Sunk licensing costs.
    Wherever an organisation has made a substantial investment into their IT infrastructure, there will be an inherent hesitation to ripping it all out and starting fresh on a new platform. Even the awareness that a new model will save money in the long run is sometimes not enough to cushion the temporary perceived financial loss.The challenge here occurs in the delta of IT and commercial considerations. The decision to migrate to a cloud infrastructure will need to be grounded in a solid vision for the business and an understanding of how a transition will underpin the overall vision for the future of the organisation. The focus needs to shift permanently from investments previously made – and all levels of leadership need to be included in the conversation around long-term business benefit.
  2. Oversold cloud availability.
    Much like airlines, Cloud Hosting Providers (CHPs) typically oversell their resources as part of their business model. As not all clients will use their maximum anticipated capacity all of the time, there is scope for CHPs to promise more than they can actually deliver. The inevitable result, of course, is that the infrastructure is not as fast, reliable and responsive as the business expects. 

    The biggest concern with this particular issue is that cloud is sold on the basis of “always-on reliability and flexibility”, which lulls the business into a false expectation of access to unlimited resources. In reality, the CHP may not have enough capacity to support a major uplift in demand, which can cause disruptions or outages for their customers.There is a genuine lack of transparency in the cloud world, as most CHPs do not typically offer insight into actual processing power available. However, as customers become more vocal in demanding reliability and guaranteed performance, we can now see a shift in how some CHPs approach cloud selling; moving towards a more conservative sales approach that doesn’t oversell capacity to the same degree.

  3. Service Level Agreements.
    When it comes to Service Level Agreements (SLAs), even the most seasoned business may struggle to evaluate the true implications of their cloud services contract. It is critical to fully understand the position of the business when it comes to demanding uptime, security, compliance and cloud governance – but this is not always easy. 

    The first and foremost SLA challenge is to evaluate one provider against the next, with a clear view of all non-negotiable criteria for the business. This may sound like a straightforward task, but can be a difficult process as it entails sifting through a great deal of information and pinpointing any issues that may cause problems for the organisation in the future. There is also an element of negotiation, as there could be scope for adjusting the terms of the SLA.The second challenge comes into play after the migration. It is about enforcing the SLAs once they are in place. Many organisations struggle to get visibility into how the CHP actually performs on the commitments made, which means they may not always spot any breaches or sub-par performance. This is particularly difficult when the business chooses to adapt existing management systems to incorporate the cloud elements such as application components, middleware and the network itself – as it becomes difficult to isolate the true source of any issues. However, one of the key trends we’re seeing now is how organisations are moving towards using complete cloud management systems which are customised to fully integrate all resources into a cohesive view.

  4. Control vs Performance.
    Although the cloud has developed into a mature option for business data throughout the past decade, the balancing act of control versus speed and flexibility remains for Oracle customers. The challenge here is to understand how a migration will truly impact the daily business operations. 

    Running Oracle cloud applications will inevitably mean a difference in response time compared to an on-premise infrastructure. There are also many other aspects to consider, such as how existing integrations have been set up and whether or not these can be retained in the cloud environment, or if workarounds will be required. For most businesses, there will need to be compromises made. This means that the organisation requires a very clear and established view of what their scope of acceptance looks like. There must be a solid evaluation of what the business is willing to compromise on, in order to gain the financial benefit of a cloud migration.

When Forrester initially made their trend evaluation in 2013, a majority of Oracle customers (89%) were unlikely or hesitant to consider moving to the cloud. (Although this study focused on Applications hosting, we’ve seen the same sentiments across the board – including databases). Since then, Oracle has made several strategic moves in order to make the transition more attractive to customers; most recently through launching their next major database update on cloud first.

So where do organisations go from here? Well – it seems clear that Oracle will continue to drive a very cloud-oriented line when it comes to new applications, database releases, management and updates. Although this may cause frustration for users not yet ready for migration, it is likely to open doors to better incentives in order to push users in that direction, which can help to mitigate the challenges of change.