Preserving the Ecosystem Through a Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy

February 14, 2020

If the motivation to pursue Cloud IaaS is solidified and you’re considering options for your Cloud Migration, this article will answer essential questions regarding one type of migration strategy – the Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy.

What is Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy?

The Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy, also known as the rehosting strategy, is the process of removing your applications from one infrastructure location and redeploying it in the cloud provider’s infrastructure without altering its functionality and interface usability i.e. without modifying the application code or its features.

From a technical standpoint, the Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy is the process of copying the applications in your servers and pasting them as is within the servers of your selected provider. It involves taking a snapshot of the application server VM’s on the source environment including the OS, boot record, converting into a compatible format (depending on provider), importing it on the provider’s infrastructure as a custom Image, and then re-instantiating the image.

Though it is less invasive to the inner workings of your applications, the Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy is considered a pathway to modernization because by improving the underlying infrastructure that powers your applications, you are optimizing their performance and beginning your journey to the Cloud.

However, your Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy is not your Cloud Strategy. The Cloud Strategy is an overview of the role that Cloud will play in your business, including how it contributes to the high-level strategy of the business and how it collaborates with other mid-level strategies across the enterprise. It is designed to offer a play by play of your business’s journey into the cloud from a functional perspective so that goals and intentions are aligned among stakeholders and you have support in this new, company-wide project. Forgetting to develop a Cloud Strategy is like forgetting your playbook before the football game that decides your career.

Your Cloud Migration Strategy is an element of your Cloud Strategy that deals directly with the implementation of your Cloud solution. Therefore, Lift and Shift is a Cloud Migration Strategy that reflects the chosen methodology in which you are transitioning your applications and their respective data to the Cloud’s infrastructure.

Among the Cloud Migration Strategies (rehosting, re-platforming, refactoring, rearchitecting, rebuilding, and replacing), the Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy is one of the most popular cloud migration strategies because it offers consolation for IT leaders who are seeking quick and considerable value through the agile cloud but would like to avoid having to accommodate large scale transformation that could disrupt the business, hinder the functionality of current custom apps or forfeit a control beyond what is comfortable. But there’s more to it than that.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Lift and Shift Cloud Migration


1. Preserve the Ecosystem

Through the Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy, IT leaders can avoid compromising their applications. The benefits of this are limited alteration to the current IT structure and limited disruption to the business for a consistent end-user experience. Infrastructure offers enablement but through the lift and shift cloud migration strategy, you can avoid unnecessary transformation that is unwanted within your business. If current applications are not causing inefficient workflows, it isn’t broke, so why fix it?

Reduced Time, Labor, and Cost

By performing a lift and shift migration strategy you remove a large portion of the work that typically comes with application redevelopment. By removing this workload, you enjoy the time, cost, and labor savings that you wouldn’t otherwise see in other migration strategies that require you to modify code and alter the internal structure of your software.

Quicker Time to Market

If you are considering a migration to Cloud IaaS in order to accommodate sudden or rapid growth, this is an extraordinary benefit of the Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy. Under the same logic that you’re receiving added savings by removing application-related work, you’re also accelerating your migration to the cloud so that you can take advantage of its scalability and agility in real-time.

User-Friendly Tools for Added Visibility and Control

The Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy is a popular strategy and thus there is a lot of education available to you on topics that may not be readily available for migration strategies that require more cloud-native skill. Additionally, depending on the provider you choose, some providers give their customers very user-friendly tools to assist them in their path to the cloud, giving them complete visibility and control over the process. For example, Oracle offers E-Business Suite customers a tool called EBS Cloud Manager so that they have complete supervision over their migration process. For other migration strategies, this linear monitorization becomes less achievable as more pieces begin to move and you start to interact with MSPs or 3rd parties for support (in many cases this is strongly recommended even for IaaS migrations so that companies can ensure proper road mapping and further reduce the present risk of migrating).

Requires Less Cloud-Native Skill

The advent of the Cloud as a popular solution for business needs is still in its youth. Many experts and professionals cite the lack of cloud-native skill to be one of the primary reasons for sub-optimal cloud migrations (by added time, cost, and effectivity). With the Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy, your lack of cloud-native skill poses less difficulty in the short term. But as we will see for these points generally, there is a downside to this.

Strategic Deployment

Without getting too technical, with proper supervision and planning, you can incorporate the Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy strategically within your cloud adoption, lifting and shifting some applications to the cloud now and altering them down the road. This complicates the process, but with an MSP by your side, Lift and Shift can offer a temporary solution and serve as a stepping stone for greater cloud adoption in the future, depending on your unique road map.


Less Risk (maybe) & Less Reward (probably)

Those who use the Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy don’t receive the full benefits of the cloud because they aren’t implementing cloud-native tools and functionality. Many of you know this. But although it is considered more cost-effective than on-premise in the short term, it can actually be more costly to run applications in the cloud this way than if you were to re-platform or refactor, especially for highly sophisticated legacy apps that require higher resource provisioning to operate.

Customized Apps are Harder to Move Than You Think

Commercial applications may be easy to move using the Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy; however, custom applications that are bespoke or written to address a unique need within the company may require a modification that, if not accounted for in the planning process / in collaboration with an MSP, can cause trouble where remediation through additional labor and costs is needed to avoid disruption to the business.

Legacy Applications

Years of ad hoc updates and quick solutions can cause environments to become a developer’s nightmares. In many cases, companies would probably be better served by discarding their existing infrastructure and adopting cloud-based applications. Moving the application to the cloud is a matter of storage but reconfiguring it to make sure that it runs effectively and aligns with cloud-driven datasets will take more work than a lift and shift project. However, if the business needs those Legacy Applications or are unwilling to sacrifice them if the cloud-native skill is lacking, you may need to consult with a 3rd party or MSP who specializes in migrations to your preferred provider. If they demonstrate strong maturity, you can likely retain your apps with little to no changes.

Skips the Essential Cloud Learning Curve

Given the recent introduction of Cloud, many businesses face a risk of skill shortage. How do you develop skills? Time and experience. Though the Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Strategy has all these benefits, a clear opportunity cost is that you’re forfeiting a necessary learning curve that will hinder your future cloud adoption and put you behind in the knowledge race. The less you and your personnel know, the more you’re forced to rely on 3rd parties, and without true cloud experience, you will be lacking informed context that will weaken future judgment of Cloud within your business. For some, this is one of the primary reasons not to perform lift and shift because they want to be amid the Cloud revolution and are embracing the greater transformation within their company.

Example of Lift and Shift

You create a new Oracle Cloud Infrastructure virtual machine, based on a new version of the Oracle Linux operating system with the latest security updates. You can then redeploy your application on the new virtual machine and the new. For example, consider the task of migrating PeopleSoft using Cloud Manager. This operation reinstalls PeopleSoft on a new Oracle Cloud Infrastructure VM and moves just the configurations and data over the operating system.

Another example of refactoring to use PaaS might be to take an existing Ruby on Rails application and deploy it to Heroku or to take an existing Drupal application and modify it to run on Acquia Cloud or Pantheon. PaaS options will allow you to focus on the application without having to deal with the underlying OS.

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