Lift-and-Shift Migrations in Cloud

Things to Consider with Lift-and-Shift Migrations in Cloud

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 strategy still requires some planning upfront. Successfully running this application on traditional hardware servers or on-premises VMs does not mean it will run correctly in the cloud. 
  • Be sure to investigate all connections going in and out of the application and to the data. 
  • What is the predicted lifetime of this application and data? If the lifespan is shorter than 12 months, it may not be worth moving to the cloud. 
  • Think carefully about how many and what types of accesses are required for this application and data. You will need to do added analysis to determine how you can provide access to other APIs and/or data not included in the code and/or data you are moving. 
  • Many cloud hosting providers have automated tools for migrating these types of standalone applications and data. Review the tools provided by your cloud hosting provider to determine if they are appropriate for your particular situation. The tools mentioned are often a quick way to perform a “test” migration and address architectural vulnerabilities in the cloud. 
  • If more than one application falls into the “lift and moves” category for migration to the cloud, it may make sense to write a runbook to automate multiple migrations in a batch operation. 
  • This type of migration strategy may only be a “first step” for a more comprehensive strategy. Many organizations have multiple smaller applications and data that should be combined and refactored for cloud-native capabilities. It is often easier to do the “refactoring” in the cloud if all the applications and data are already in the same cloud. 
  • Although this strategy is easier and faster, you will still need to run tests after the migration. Make sure your current test suite can run with the application once it is in the cloud environment. 
  • All current application requirements, data compliance, and regulatory requirements will remain the same in the cloud environment. You should tick all these boxes when setting up the cloud environment. After migration, you can then perform your normal validation testing. 
  • As with any other project, you should be careful not to go too large in scope. It’s so easy to enable additional features in the cloud that might add some value to the application. However, a working application may not need all of these features. The ease of enabling something can lead to many extra hours of testing to make sure you have not created any new bugs. 


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.

What's next?

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