The cloud has changed the IT and business worlds forever, and generally for the better. But when misused or abused the cloud can backfire, leading to a serious business setback or, in a worst-case situation, long-term competitive damage.\n\nEnsuing proper cloud use is essential in today\u2019s high-stakes, fast-paced business environment. Learn from the following 10 mistakes, and do your best not to repeat them.\n\n1. Poor planning\n\nEnterprises risk running into trouble if they lack a detailed cloud strategy. \u201cA pragmatic and structured architectural approach when moving to the cloud is critical,\u201d says William Peldzus, senior director and Center of Excellence head with enterprise consulting firm Capgemini Americas.\n\nIt\u2019s imperative to think strategically when moving to the cloud, Peldzus says. \u201cProper architectural designs and preparations will potentially eliminate days, if not weeks and months, of troubleshooting and debugging issues.\u201d\n\nEven small steps will position an organization for cloud success, Peldzus states. Learning from any missteps made along the way, from planning to migration, is also important. \u201cThose who attempt to jump into the cloud and figure it out on the fly will not be successful,\u201d he warns.\n\n2. Misunderstanding migration\n\nCloud migration is not a once-and-done process. \u201cIt\u2019s a continuous journey with complex interrelated issues,\u201d says Karthik Narain, cloud first lead at enterprise advisory firm Accenture.\n\nMany IT leaders mistakenly view cloud migration as a conventional project, complete with bedrock start and finish dates. Yet recent Accenture research found that 32% of enterprises that view their cloud journey as complete are actually leaving value on the table while placing their organizations at risk. \u201cA narrow focus on cost savings can put organizations at a competitive disadvantage compared to those using the cloud more strategically across its many dynamic forms, including public, private, and edge,\u201d Narain says. \u201cIn fact, our ... research has shown that those [organizations] that viewed the cloud strategically actually reduced cost more than those focused only on efficiency.\u201d\n\n3. Underestimating cloud costs\n\nIt\u2019s a common misconception that cloud migration always leads to immediate cost savings. \u201cIn reality, cloud migration is expensive, and not having a full and complete picture of all costs can sink a business,\u201d warns Aref Matin, CTO at publishing firm John Wiley & Sons.\n\nCloud migration often does lead to cost savings, but careful, detailed planning is essential. Still, as the cloud migration progresses, hidden costs will inevitably appear and multiply. \u201cYou must ensure at the start of the project that you have a full, holistic cloud budget,\u201d Matin advises.\n\nCloud costs appear in various forms. Sometimes they\u2019re in plain sight, such as the cost of walking away from an existing data facility. Yet many expenses aren\u2019t so obvious. \u201cFor example, the cost of talent, including reskilling, upskilling, and finding the right cloud talent, or for reorganizing your business structure,\u201d Matin says. \u201cAll of these expenses should be considered in your planning.\u201d\n\n4. Cloud complacency\n\nCloud computing\u2019s first era is drawing to a close. Most enterprises already have some form of cloud infrastructure in place, observes Ronen Schwartz, general manager and senior vice president, cloud storage, at hybrid cloud data services and data management firm NetApp.\n\nThe cloud is at an inflection point, Schwartz states. Many organizations still retain significant amounts of data, applications, and workloads on premises, even as they continue migrating to the cloud. Yet he believes that many such enterprises are now entering an evolved cloud \u2014 hybrid multicloud environments in which cloud services are fully integrated into the organization\u2019s architecture and operations.\n\n\u201cIt breaks down silos to simplify management and deliver observability everywhere,\u201d Schwartz says. \u201cThe evolved cloud is just like its name suggests \u2014 it\u2019s not an end state.\u201d\n\nOnce an enterprise enters the evolved cloud, Schwartz recommends pushing forward to avoid stagnation. \u201cIf they migrated applications, now they can refactor them for the cloud,\u201d he says. \u201cIf they\u2019ve refactored them, they can now optimize for performance or for cost.\u201d In either case, Schwartz advises pushing forward and evolving along with the cloud.\n\n5. Poor data accessibility\n\nA major challenge facing many larger enterprises is leveraging data spread across disparate systems. \u201cEnsuring that data is accessible and secure across multiple environments, on-premises as well as on applications running in the cloud, is an increasing headache,\u201d says Darlene Williams, CIO of software development firm Rocket Software. She notes that a survey of mainframe technology users revealed that 80% believe that mainframe technology remains critical to business operations.\n\nAbandoning data stored on legacy systems can deprive departments of access to potentially valuable insights. Williams warns that enterprises that tip the scale too far toward the cloud, risk forgetting the inherent value of data locked in legacy hardware.\n\n6. Platform sprawl\n\nWhenever possible, IT leaders should consolidate and merge cloud-based services to reduce costs and avoid platform sprawl, says Wayne Carter, vice president of engineering, with cloud database technology provider Couchbase. \u201cFor example, rather than using multiple databases, a multimodal database can handle different data types and models from a single, integrated backend and prevent ... data sprawl and spending unnecessary funds.\u201d\n\nCarter advises IT leaders to look deep within their organizations to understand how software resources are being used. \u201cThey may find there\u2019s software that can have multiple licenses added for more than one team to use across the company,\u201d he notes.\n\n7. Inadequate security\n\nLax security can turn a promising cloud initiative into an IT nightmare. \u201cAvoiding cloud security-related mistakes requires understanding your cloud environment and ensuring that appropriate guardrails are in place to safeguard your infrastructure against external and internal security threats,\u201d says Emmanuel Nnodim, cloud architect at IT consulting firm SPR.\n\nFailing to guard against against external and internal threats can be lethal, because it jeopardizes the organization\u2019s reputation, weakens customer trust, and can lead to significant financial losses. Nnodim recommends that every stage of cloud planning should include a thorough security assessment.\n\n8. Unbridled enthusiasm\n\nMany enterprises view the cloud as a miracle technology, downplaying the amount of planning and work needed to address real-world design and operational challenges. \u201cWhen firms encounter these challenges, they struggle to find the skills and experience needed to remediate issues,\u201d says Sunil Moorjani, a director with global technology research and advisory firm ISG.\n\nMoorjani observes that the arrival of multicloud environments, combined with a persistent talent shortage, has made cloud deployment and management even more complex. As a result, many adopters have been disappointed by their \u201ccloud first\u201d results. He reports that nearly 70% of respondents to a recent ISG survey have achieved less than 20% of their primary goals, and many have accounted significant budget overruns and missed deadlines.\n\nEven when viewing cloud adoption in realistic terms, many IT leaders fail to understand that cloud adoption isn\u2019t merely a technical exercise. \u201cFirms must also pay attention to contractual obligations,\u201d Moorjani warns. He notes that multiyear contracts can lock unwary clients into expensive, inflexible consumption models.\n\n9. Rushing migration\n\nOvereager cloud migrators tend to favor a \u201clift and shift\u201d migration approach, underestimating the long-term costs associated with failing to optimize antiquated applications.\n\n\u201cEnterprises driving to digitize without the proper steps in place will be drained by 10% higher-than-average cloud costs, legacy application delivery times lagging by as much as 400%, high-risk security vulnerabilities, and staggering maintenance and compliance requirements,\u201d warns Marco Roman, head of North American field operations at e-Core, a technology consulting and development services provider. \u201cIt\u2019s evidently pennywise and pound foolish to cut these early corners.\u201d\n\n10. Not looking forward\n\nThe cloud is continuing to evolve, supporting and improving core business operations in an ever-growing number of ways. Enterprises should always be looking forward, aligning their business strategies to accommodate multicloud, cloud edge computing, and other advancements, advises Matthias Loh, financial services technology lead with enterprise consulting firm EY Americas.\n\nAs CIOs ponder which cloud strategies to pursue, they will need to consider how to best future-proof and architect their cloud designs to avoid silos, drive new and profitable growth, and maintain efficiency, security, and transparency. \u201cIt\u2019s critical to have a clear and deliberate framework on how to best address the risks and costs associated with the cloud,\u201d Loh adds.