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What may get lost in the cloud hype is what happens when it's not a fit for a particular application. The reasons may range from a lack of custom configurations to monthly sticker shock and excessive outages. To migrate cloud applications back to on-premises applications, administrators need to be patient and thoroughly plan out the many associated costs.
Third-party tools help when cloud providers don't
No matter the reason, a journey back from the cloud will be an obstacle course. Most of the available tools and resources are designed for a one-way journey. Migration out of the cloud is possible, but your cloud vendor has likely invested more in getting you into the cloud than getting you out.
Fortunately, there are now several third-party tools that can help your staff migrate VMs and workloads from the cloud. These range from disaster recovery solutions to replication tools that sync your VMs back to your data center.
Negotiate the distribution of resources
Beyond the initial costs of migration tools, administrators need to evaluate the staff and resources this process will use. Data centers rarely have surplus compute and personnel resources. When you migrate applications to the cloud, the resources they previously consumed are usually reallocated to other projects.
Administrators are right to be wary because the move to on-premises applications might involve purchasing new hardware and licenses. Your migration will incur more costs if you haven't maintained the on-site licensing for the applications you wish to migrate.
Retain staff familiar with the on-premises applications
Staffing presents another challenge. Your data center and application staff members are highly trained professionals, but they might feel adrift after a cloud migration.
Ideally, you can retain those folks; if not, your journey back from the cloud will hit another speed bump. The call to trim resources after a migration to the cloud often comes too fast, and the damage can be severe. It's not the mere loss of an application or infrastructure expert, but the loss of someone with priceless direct experience with your environment -- an immense value during migration. Without them, you might need to hire consultants to bridge the gap until you can train new employees.
There are significant operational challenges to bringing applications back on premises. It's costly to monitor and support a returning application infrastructure in terms of both software monitoring and personnel deployment.
Despite these drawbacks, you do regain control once cloud applications become on-premises applications. Other costs can be better absorbed because your support personnel will be able to control the update schedule rather than leaving it to the cloud provider's convenience. This will help your on-site staff as you can review and update your configuration management policies to better align with your company's existing policies.
Evaluate network bandwidth and security changes
To ensure robust performance from your cloud provider, you likely needed to increase your bandwidth or purchase additional connections. You might not need the same setup once you bring an application back on premises.
While network bandwidth might get smaller, security costs can get larger. The security of a cloud application depends on the cloud provider. Once it becomes an on-premises application, it might require additional security policies or even new security tools to ensure its on-premises security matches or exceeds what the cloud provider supplied.
It's challenging, but not impossible, to migrate cloud applications back to on-premises applications. The complexity, costs and consequences of the process mean that you need to have compelling reasons to follow through with the migration. The sheer number of roadblocks will deter some, but with time and patience -- as well as cooperation and support from management -- administrators can surmount them.