Cloud Migration Methods Part 1: Lift and Shift

Rehosting Cloud Migration Strategy

It is estimated that by 2020, nearly 85% of enterprise workloads will be running in the cloud, taking advantage of its flexibility, security, and cost benefits. Of course, there are a number of ways to get there, and not all organizations will take the same approach. One popular method of cloud migration is rehosting, more commonly known as the lift and shift approach.

 

What is Lift and Shift?

Lift and shift cloud migration involves copying, bit by bit, the workloads, tasks, and applications housed within an organization’s virtual machines, and storing the replicated version in a cloud-based location. Because the data is simply a replication, no code is modified and no costly, time-consuming redesign is required during migration.

Due to the copying of code involved in lifting and shifting, the approach has been mischaracterized as “cutting and pasting” which has created chaos for some companies that didn’t properly prepare. While the method is certainly less complex than other migration techniques, IT teams and their cloud provider will want to be sure data sets are properly matched with handling systems in the new environment. Additionally, they need to ensure that all applications have the resources needed to operate effectively and efficiently.

 

Advantages of the Lift and Shift Approach

Aside from eliminating the costly (and CFO-hated) capital expenses associated with maintaining on-premise servers and equipment, the lift and shift approach has gained a lot of popularity because it can often be accomplished quickly and inexpensively. This is especially true when compared to alternate migration options, such as re-architecturing. It’s also a far less resource-intensive migration process, meaning an entire IT staff won’t be consumed with the cloud migration indefinitely.

In addition to these benefits, organizations can continue to operate while their workloads are replicated, without downtime; this offers a seamless transition that preserves productivity while maintaining resource availability. When it’s time to make the switch, it’s about as easy as actually flipping one!

 

Disadvantages of the Lift and Shift Approach

Despite properly planning for a lift and shift migration, it’s nearly impossible to optimize every application within an environment it wasn’t initially built for. Therefore, lift-and-shift migrations don’t generally benefit from cloud-native features like scalability and elasticity, which can lead to inefficiencies that may offset the savings usually associated with the approach. Fortunately, as long as mission-critical workloads are fully functional, those requiring a bit of tweaking can be worked on following the migration (some organizations choose to keep applications that won’t run optimally in a cloud-based environment on-site, while migrating the rest; this is essentially a hybrid approach which will be explained more in part two of this series).

Lastly, migrating from a legacy system, many of which have had ad hoc solutions and workarounds built into them over the years, can be a very daunting task. The cloud works best when software is deployed in individual microservices, each in its own container; moving monolithic applications that are often found in legacy systems is bound to cause trouble. At that point, saving critical data and making a clean start in the cloud may be the best solution.


The appeal of lift and shift is the idea of easily moving workloads from one place to another; essentially, taking a forklift to your data. While it does boast many advantages, organizations also need to be aware of the potential pitfalls. Look for parts two and three in this migration series, and then make your move to the cloud with confidence. Want to talk about migration now? Talk to the IT experts at DSM about a lift and shift strategy, or other options available to you, today.

Guide to Cloud Migration

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