What is Lift and Shift? Is It the Cloud Migration Strategy for You?

Posted by Rick Yvanovich

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Cloud migration today requires a well-planned approach to address the complex mix of management, technological, people, and resource problems. There are multiple methods that organisations can embrace, and lift and shift is one of them. 


Read more: Cloud Adoption Strategy: Cloud-First vs. Cloud-Only

What is “lift and shift”? 

By definition, lift and shift is a method of transferring an operation or application from one environment to another, typically to the cloud, without pausing any operation. This strategy is largely different from refactoring, which means modifying and optimising the whole application to meet modern standards.  

For instance, lift and shift is typically suitable for commercial applications. On the other hand, refactoring is best for off-the-shelf programs with well-defined patterns, e.g., large data processing and picture rendering.  

In the early days of cloud computing, lift and shift was a popular choice to replicate on-premises programs as it reduced expensive costs and re-design time. However, many migrated legacy colocation applications were not able to be fully employed by older colocation programs.  

Today, lift and shift is used to move somewhat cloud-ready workloads, such as VMware workloads, containerised apps, and apps with a microservices architecture. The method is also viewed as the initial step in re-architecting a monolithic program for the cloud.  

Read more: Why CFOs should be looking to the Cloud

Lift and shift vs. Refactoring

To be more specific, lift and shift saves short-term infrastructure expenses, while re-factoring requires time to transform the application when it is already in the cloud. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.  

What is Lift and Shift?

Therefore, whether to choose re-architecting or lift and shift depends largely on the complexity of the application or operation. Although refactoring an application as part of the migration is essential, businesses occasionally need to do so backwards. 

Lift-and-shift advantages

  • Cost savings: Organisations only pay for what they use, save time managing backend infrastructures, and focus on innovating their unique market differentiator instead. Many major businesses migrating applications to the cloud can cut significant IT expenses while benefitting from features like auto-scaling and pay-per-use in the cloud environment. For example, Down Johns attained a 25% reduction, and GE Oil & Gas saved 52% on costs. 
  • Performance improvement: Lift and shift gives you the option to run apps on modern, higher-performing hardware without having to buy it.  
  • Disaster recovery in the cloud: Businesses get access to a second, highly accessible site by moving data to the cloud, meaning when unwanted incidents happen, you can still retract or recover missed files. There should be no worries about missing data due to system errors.  
  • Improve security: After migration, older apps can utilise cloud security features, including role-based access control, multifactor authentication, and unified hybrid security procedures. 

Lift-and-shift disadvantages

  • Decrease in effectiveness: Lift and shift is like moving a houseplant from one environment to another; the success of the plant depends on its new setting. Similarly, an IT project that began in an on-premises or legacy system may not function as well in a different location. Therefore, some resource-intensive apps may need to be rewritten completely as cloud-native apps to prevent speed and latency difficulties.  
  • Rising need for refactoring: When performance falls short, refactoring would also be required. For example, when costs are unexpectedly high because of application and database inefficiencies or security flaws, the program cannot interface with native security systems. Then, the cloud-based application might need refactoring. 
  • Not the most cost-saving strategy: Lift and shift is not always able to fully use native cloud features, so you might need extra tools and costs afterwards.   

Read more: 4 Blueprints for Your Enterprise’s Cloud Strategy

Refactoring advantages

  • Problem fixing: In certain circumstances, the software is written poorly, resulting in a large number of defects. With refactoring, bad patterns can be detected and eliminated effectively.  
  • Maintainability: Refactoring allows comprehensive enhancement, maintenance, and extendibility of the software.  

Refactoring disadvantages

  • Vulnerability: Due to the increase in complexity of the coding, the probability of error would also rise. If something goes wrong during this process, the software might require more time and effort to fix it.  
  • Time-consuming: Refactoring takes a comparatively longer time than simply launching it in the cloud. Therefore, it might not be the best solution if the delivery schedule is tight. 

Read more: Dispelling common misconceptions about Cloud ERP

Cloud migration steps

A suitable cloud migration strategy should be based on the business’ distinct objectives and includes factors like performance and security needs, choice of a cloud provider, cost estimation, and any necessary rearrangement.

Here are some fundamental stages for you to consider:  

  • First, find the application or workload you want to shift to the cloud.  
  • Next, determine the volume of data, time, and how the data should be migrated. Businesses should determine data and app volume and any dependencies to decide between duplication or redesigning to fit different cloud services.  
  • Lastly, think about your budget. A company usually has significant financial commitments to its hardware infrastructure and software licenses. Hence, you should consider if moving the task is worthwhile considering data performance, utilisation, and stability after a cloud transfer. 

When should businesses do lift and shift?

  • When the cost of your on-premise infrastructure is increasing rapidly, you are not yet prepared to restructure your applications. In this situation, it could be beneficial to temporarily "park" the apps in the cloud until you are ready to rebuild. The exceptions are resource-intensive legacy apps with quick-rising pay-by-use cloud rates (big data analytics, digital animation, or engineering or medical imaging).  
  • If your organisation wants to migrate off-the-shelf applications, the only true alternative is to transfer them to the cloud as you cannot rearrange those. 
  • When your organisation needs an affordable backup and recovery method.

For more information, download the Information kit below. 
Cloud migration strategy: 4 paths to the cloud

Topics: Cloud Computing

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Rick Yvanovich

 Rick Yvanovich
 /Founder & CEO/

With TRG International Blog, it is our mission to be your preferred partner providing solutions that work and we will make sure to guide your business to greatness every day.

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