Lift and Shift refer to an application migration strategy (rehosting) for moving to a cloud-based environment. Typically, this approach involves little to no change to the application and data architecture. Speed and cost are usually the primary considerations when choosing this strategy.
Things to consider
This is infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or lifts and shifts. You host your application in a different hardware environment without changing the architecture of the application. Migration is fast and relatively inexpensive, but ongoing operations can be costly because you cannot take advantage of cloud efficiencies.
Also known as Platform as a Service (PaaS), you run your applications on a cloud provider’s infrastructure. Developers can reuse languages, frameworks, and containers, leveraging code that is strategic to the business. The downside is missing features, transitive risks, and being locked into a framework.
First, support legacy modernization requirements by modifying or extending existing code; then take the rehosting or refactoring route to the cloud. This means you can leverage the cloud features of your vendor’s infrastructure-but not without some upfront development costs.
You throw the code of an existing application overboard and rebuild it. The benefit is access to innovative features in the vendor’s Platform that improve developer productivity. The price you pay is either vendor lock-in or giving up your application resources when the situation becomes unacceptable.
Discard your existing application set and adopt commercial software delivered as a service (SaaS). When business function requirements change rapidly, this approach saves you the time and investment of mobilizing a development team. However, you may face inconsistent data semantics, difficult data access, and lock-in to a specific vendor.
The points in the “Things to Consider” section above clarify that the lift-and-shift strategy can be more complicated than expected. With any type of cloud migration, you must take the time to thoroughly analyse and evaluate your applications and data. This upfront planning work will save you thousands of hours wasted by choosing the wrong migration strategy. As part of any cloud migration strategy, there must be a plan to assess your “complete” application and data portfolio.
This assessment should be a multi-step review that divides your portfolio into clearly defined categories. Lift and Shift (rehosting) can be an extremely useful strategy for many applications. It is also a great learning exercise for initial migrations to the cloud. However, many applications will benefit from an alternative migration strategy in both the short and long term.