Migrating to the Cloud Using Lift and Shift

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Cloud Migration Lift and Shift

What is Lift and Shift in Cloud Migration?

You’ve completed all due diligence, decided which platforms fit your operation, and finally accepted that a move to the cloud is the best way to scale. With that big decision out the way,  the next one comes in the form of a looming question: what is the most painless way I can migrate to the cloud? Since the answer depends on the feasibility of your current setup, there’s no blanket answer that works for all scenarios.  

Fortunately, there are many options for migration, with cloud computing expertise available from agencies that specialize in such operations. This blog covers the ‘lift and shift’ migration process, explaining how it works, and which types of companies benefit the most from it. For the latter, consider contacting one of our experts to ensure a smooth migration to one of the major platforms.

What is Lift and Shift Migration?

The term ‘lift and shift’ refers to the process of moving data and applications from an on-site system to a cloud-based infrastructure without changing its core methods. The ‘lift’ expresses the act of taking your infrastructure as-is, rather than changing it to fit the structure of its destination; the ‘shift’ refers to the movement from one place to another, rather than moving data to an alternate infrastructure.  The method is also referred to as ‘rehosting’ since it involves moving your infrastructure from one type of architecture to another.  

The direct alternative to lift and shift is called refactoring or rearchitecting. This method entails restructuring or rebuilding applications and/or workflows to match the architecture of its cloud destination. Companies might opt for this approach if their infrastructure is too complex to move, or if they would rather start from scratch with a modern replacement.

The Benefits of Lift and Shift Migration

The following are the benefits of using lift and shift migration:

  • Keeping the familiar applications intact lets your company keep the infrastructure to which it’s accustomed. This eliminates the learning curve of a new system, and helps employees hit the ground running. Downtime can become a big problem for companies that rely on continuous service to satisfy a customer base, so any tool that can smooth this transition is a positive for companies looking to migrate to the cloud.
  • The inherent benefits of the cloud apply after the ‘shift’, such as automation, increased scalability, and dashboard features. The familiarity of the legacy system is augmented by the conveniences provided by distributed computing, which allows every aspect of a company’s daily operations to become more efficient.

The Disadvantages of Lift and Shift Migration

These are the disadvantages of lift and shift. The downsides are in comparison to refactoring/rearchitecting your systems:

  • Some applications and workflows are so complex that refactoring is the only way cloud migration will work. These might include custom applications that were created for a specific purpose in the legacy system, which don’t comply with the cloud-based system. This decision will sometimes come down to how much you are sold on the cloud provider and whether the extra upfront cost is worth refactoring.
  • Without refactoring, you may not get the full benefit of the cloud from a cost optimization, scalability, or manageability perspective.

A Means to an End

Whether you transform your applications and then migrate, or do a lift and shift migration, challenges will arise. While it is best practice to avoid migrating and transforming at the same time, it is also best practice to update your applications after a life and shit migration. The lift and shift is an intermediary step, and allows for the migration to be completed prior to beginning transformation. Every application is case dependent, but lift and shift migrations can be a wise path to take your data center hosted legacy application and get them up and running in the cloud.

Finding Help for Your Cloud Migration

If you’ve read through this blog–or our more generalized piece, ‘Get Smart About Your Cloud Migration,’ you’re probably at the point where you’re researching options before a move to the cloud. Even if you have a dedicated IT department, it’s a good idea to seek external help from cloud computing experts. This will help you get the most out of whichever platform you choose. Fortunately, Foghorn Consulting has migration services for Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Follow the links to find out more:

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