The cloud services market is steadily maturing and becoming increasingly competitive, but customer lock-in is still common. To take customers from competitors, cloud providers must offer secure cloud-to-cloud migration.
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Providers that lead with security and transparency features may not only differentiate themselves in the crowded market, but could also poach customers that are unhappy with their current provider.
Cloud-to-cloud migration: Security fears lock in customers
Enterprises often develop a comprehensive cloud migration strategy when they first do business with cloud providers, but they typically lack a plan for leaving that provider if they are unhappy with the service, said Ed Moyle, founding partner of the analyst firm Security Curve.
"In practice, this means there's a challenge associated with moving services out of a given cloud environment … or [moving to] another provider," he said.
Providers who engage with unhappy customers of the competition should lead with security -- a concern for every cloud customer -- and then move into more differentiated offerings that will target a specific segment of customers, said Geoff Webb, director of solution strategy for NetIQ, a Houston-based provider of Disaster Recovery as a Service, security and workload management software for enterprises and cloud service providers.
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Securing data at rest is different than securing data as it is transmitted to a provider's environment or between cloud providers. While on the move, data loss is also a concern.
When switching to a new provider or adopting a multi-cloud strategy, customers are worried about where their data might end up, Webb said. "While a service-level agreement [SLA] is great, more visibility can unlock the potential for adoption of a [provider's] services if the provider can address those concerns early."
NetIQ offers software-based security add-on services to help providers differentiate their Infrastructure as a Service offerings. "NetIQ software gives providers the ability to be very specific about where customer data is being held … and makes it very easy for providers to onboard and ramp-up their customers," said Mike Robinson, senior solution marketing manager for NetIQ.
"The way providers can really compete in the cloud market now is by letting customers move into the cloud in the way they want to," NetIQ's Robinson said.
Cloud-to-cloud migration: Give customers the freedom to roam
Secure cloud-to-cloud migration is a good appetizer, but customers want a comprehensive security strategy, too, said Mike Chapple, senior director of enterprise support services at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
"Securing data moving between providers is important, but it's only a short period of time," he said. "Users want to know that the cloud provider they are switching to is secure and compliant throughout the entire amount of time they will be maintaining their data or running the [provider's service]."
Even though data exchange to a new cloud provider may not necessarily be any more risky than a customer's initial move to the cloud, secure cloud-to-cloud migration is still a chance for a provider to differentiate.
The provider should also emphasize open standards so customers can limit the amount of re-engineering they have to do to their applications after a cloud-to-cloud migration. These open standards will make it easier for customers to shop around, so providers will have to stay vigilant, Security Curve's Moyle said.