What is Lift & Shift Migration to the Cloud?

Many organizations start moving to the cloud using a lift & shift migration with one or more of their applications. Lift & shift, or rehosting, means moving a workload from on premise to the cloud with minimal modification. So instead of running software on local networks or in a colocated data center, the computing load happens virtually in the cloud. Migration with lift & shift is typically a transitional step to a more cloud-native architecture. Lift & shift provides a path to eliminate the overhead of maintaining on-premise servers. You can operate with little disruption and avoid the high costs of more complex cloud migration methods.

When does lift & shift make sense?

Many organizations operate on IT infrastructure that has been in place for a long time. If the overhead costs of your on-premise infrastructure are rising and you aren’t ready to replace your application(s), lift & shift can be a viable option. Further, it may be easy to migrate off-the-shelf applications.

Bear in mind that applications built for that infrastructure need additional consideration before attempting lift & shift. Although there are benefits of moving them, some legacy and third-party applications cannot function as cloud-native solutions. On the other hand, if your application has a decent “horizon”, meaning it won’t be out of date (retired) within a year, it’s a candidate for rehosting.

You need to ensure that migrating to the cloud doesn’t introduce bottlenecks for your current systems — typically, it’s a good idea to initiate a proof of concept (PoC) if possible. Also, for compliance, audit the cloud provider’s infrastructure to ensure all compliance requirements will be met throughout the migration.

A simple cost analysis is a good place to start. Compare total operating costs of on-premise hosting to the OpEx model provided by cloud hosting.

Advantages of Lift & Shift

  • Minimal upfront effort
  • Quick migration and deployment

Disadvantages of Lift & Shift

  • No leveraging of cloud-native functionality
  • Potentially higher operating costs

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