• Jahir B Navaz, Manager |
  • Chhavi Saluja, Associate Director |
6 min read

In the present situation, most enterprises are using cloud technologies, tools, and services to innovate and provide their businesses with a competitive edge. Although organization’s cloud strategy accelerates application modernization, platform resiliency, roll-out of services and security, this may not ensure cloud transformation success and effectiveness of outcomes. One of the major mistakes that most enterprises make in their cloud transformation journey is not including a clear "Cloud Exit Strategy". 

What is a Cloud Exit Strategy?

A cloud exit strategy, commonly referred to as a reverse migration, is the process of developing a plan to ensure that a business can effectively switch from one cloud provider to another without a larger disruption. This should be the focus area for all the businesses who want to migrate to cloud.

Ideally, they need to explore, document the challenges and roadblocks beforehand (before moving to cloud). This may also be the case even if your companies never return to on-premises infrastructure (Cloud repatriation). An exit strategy can help you through talks with service providers and have an impact on your design (current and future state). 

Why is it important?

Although most cloud service providers offer services with outstanding uptime and reliability, even the market leaders have recently faced substantial disruptions. Likewise, there are multiple other reasons to rethink previous decisions, like cloud concerns encountered by enterprise that could be detrimental to their business performance, budget/cost controls & governance etc.,                  .

If this continues to happen more frequently and hamper the agreed SLAs (Service Level Agreement), a company will have to decide between switching providers, creating a DR (Disaster Recovery) solution amongst public clouds, or use multiple heterogeneous cloud endpoints to reach higher levels of availability. Being cognizant of possibilities and planning for them in advance is a vital part of strategic planning.

Cloud exit strategy considerations can also be driven by opening more innovation avenues that might aid the company in better adapting to shifting market opportunities. This is what motivates enterprises 

Some of the discontinued services announcement from the Cloud Leaders

to think about creating a cloud exit strategy. Instead of relying solely on one cloud vendor, multi-cloud focuses on using the distinctive characteristics of various clouds. For instance, a business may wish to use innovative technology provided by a cloud provider they are not already using. This can be addressed by using multi-cloud split-stack solution (e.g., For transactional processing, the production database is deployed on OCI, PowerBuilder Apps for building many types of applications and components hosted by AWS, and the .NET, Go, and other open-source applications are hosted by GCP). Another situation where the cloud providers deprecate/retire a particular application or service leaves the customer teams to find a replacement choice.

The next important thing to consider is the legal requirements and regulations. For instance, data residency laws are becoming more stringent across Europe. The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sets up guidelines for how residents of the EU (European Union) must handle personal identification information.

Your business will require a plan to move this type of data to a different provider if your current provider is hosting it in areas that are not allowed by GDPR because you are considered the owner of the data. This means that you, not the cloud provider, oversee adhering to compliance requirements.

Having a well-thought-out cloud exit strategy also lessens the difficulties associated with vendor lock-in. You can receive help from better pricing and more alluring discounts by having a ready-to-use cloud exit strategy because it gives you greater negotiating power.

Key Considerations

It’s at the beginning phases of cloud design and planning that a company should have a clear cloud exit strategy. It needs to be considered in its whole and should include the entire application portfolio that is intended for migration. If your company hasn't taken this proactive stance, then, in most cases, each migration choice you've made will need to be reviewed to make sure that a cloud exit plan is in place and consider both the changing cloud service landscape and constantly changing business requirements.

Building a cloud exit strategy also requires careful consideration of stakeholder management. Added factors, such as where data is physically housed and how those decisions affect compliance needs, will be provided by various perspectives, such as those from application owners, regulatory, and data governance.

The cloud exit strategy should be thorough and account for all potential outcomes if a business partnership with a cloud provider ends. The strategy should consider the involvement of independent software vendors, solution architects, and third parties. It may also cover potential outcomes like data breaches or a move to a rival's public cloud.

The businesses should also consider the time and money needed to find new vendors. This includes multiple phases, vendor management, and costs related to retraining your cloud teams (platform, operations, applications etc.). All these could be a part of this process.

Evaluate your Exit Strategy

When an enterprise is having poor planning towards the first transition, they are charged heavily on the egress fees because of moving terabytes of data from on-prem, or performance degradation, the availability & latency issues, among others.

To plan the cloud exit, an effective exit strategy is a key /part to keep irreplaceable data secured and ensure a successful transition. Businesses should test themselves with the following questionnaire while preparing for Cloud Exit (and of course this is not an exhaustive list)

  1. What are the challenges in running workloads with the current CSP (Cloud Service Provider)?
  2. How does the current costing look like? Is it always an upward pricing model?
  3. Is vendor lock-in preventing the business from moving forward?
  4. Is it offering a competitive edge over the other? What is the next important thing with current CSP to achieve my target state?
  5. How far is it innovative in terms of digital solutions?
  6. What is the model of regulators with the current CSP? Is it adapting and updating the industry guidance? And at what frequency?
  7. What are the overall capabilities in terms of addressing present challenges? E.g., Security, Compliance, Operational Resiliency etc.,
  8. Is the corporate governance helping in realizing cloud exit?
  9. How frequent are the outages with respect to the specific service/services that you use?
  10. How is your experience towards customer support?

Develop a Cloud Exit Plan

At an extremely elevated level the next step is to launch the exit plan which will be decided by the Cloud Exit team (Cloud COE Team along with Governance, Security, Change Management, Procurement, & Platform Teams). Only in this stage of the Cloud Exit Strategy can the circumstances be evaluated and the choice to start the plan be made. The justifications produced by the Cloud Exit team serve as the foundation for the decision to start an exit.

For example, if these are the criteria to be met for this application, technology, or service chosen, a situational analysis and problem-solving process must be carried out. If a choice is made, the process is carried out exactly by the exit plans that have been pre-approved.


Key Takeaways - Having a concrete cloud exit strategy will ensure strong guardrails in the event of business disruption, avoid vendor lock-ins, and have better damage control. Cloud exit strategy should be comprehensive to include variety of schemes that may occur involving various parties in cloud ecosystem. Organizations should also figure in human aspects like organizational readiness for the change, sourcing needs and educating employees on cloud exit planning.

Navaz Jahir is a lead Cloud Architect in KPMG Cloud Transformation Services. Navaz works at the intersection of Cloud Strategy, IT Architecture and Solution Architecture. His primary focus is on engaging with customers and help them accelerate modernization using cloud-native architectures