Best Path for Cloud Migration: Lift & Shift Part 1

As discussed in our last blog, Moving Sucks: 5 Tips for Painless Cloud Migration, the cloud has been, still is, and will continue to be a growing trend amongst enterprises throughout the past decade. It’s more than just an industry buzz word, it’s transforming the way companies do business, how enterprises—and individuals—store and secure data, and much more.

However, as also noted in our previous blog, it’s important to migrate to the cloud securely to reap the benefits it has to offer. Part of a successful and secure migration involves planning and determining which migration path—lift and shift or a cloud-native re-architecture of the application—is best for your environment and will help you achieve your overall cloud goals.

These next two blogs will take a look at why choosing a migration path matters, the differences of these two approaches, the pros and cons of each, and how to determine which is best for your environment. Today though, we’ll start by focusing on the importance of planning and choosing your migration path, as well as the lift and shift approach.

Why choosing your migration path matters

Think about migrating your IT environment to the cloud like moving into a new living space. You’ve just bought a new house and deciding whether to bring all your existing furniture with you into the new house (lift and shift), or build all new furniture that fits the exact contours of your new home (re-architect)? The path you choose will determine the success of your cloud environment and business.

After careful planning and consideration of what you want from your cloud environment, it’s important to choose the right migration path for the following reasons:

  1. Alignment with your overall organization’s priorities. Prior to deciding to move to a cloud environment, you should have laid out the goals of your company and how the cloud will support those priorities. You want to be clear on why your organization is moving to the cloud (cost savings, accelerating development cycles, modernization of infrastructure, etc.), so which migration path you choose supports those goals and does not create any additional friction.
  2. Overall success in planning, implementing, and maintaining your cloud environment is dependent on which path or paths you choose. Choosing between the lift and shift or re-architect method will not only determine how you move to the cloud, but also the success of your new environment. Prior to deciding on your migration path, you will need to figure out how you plan to deploy and retain your cloud environment. From there, choosing your migration path should align with your plans to do so.
  3. It forces a discussion of what you want to get out of the cloud and how you want to leverage some of its unique advantages. As mentioned above, the cloud is more than an industry buzz word, it’s an impactful business tool. Sure, your goals will highlight the big picture reasons for moving to the cloud, but there’s so much more it has to offer, including promoting collaboration, flexibility, disaster recovery, etc. Deciding how to migrate will help you figure out almost everything you want to get out of your cloud.
  4. It will impact what skillsets and/or outsourced vendors you need for the migration. Your organization is likely strapped for skilled professionals—like the rest of the industry—and perhaps even resources. Which migration path you choose will also determine which internal and external resources you need to tap into. Will you need help developing a new environment? Or securing the assets inside your on-premises infrastructure prior to making the move? Can your teams optimize your environment, or should you hire a vendor to assist in doing so? It’s important to determine what skillsets your team already has and what you’ll need to outsource for. Your migration path might even be able to help lessen the burden.
  5. It is going to affect your secure cloud migration framework.It’s crucial to keep all information you store secure during a cloud migration. Assess the data you’re currently storing and determine if you need to rebuild an environment with baked-in security, or if moving all that data will suffice. Security should play a key factor in your planning process when moving to the cloud and it’s important to determine which migration path will provide the most reliable security while still supporting your goals.

The lift and shift approach

Remember the analogy of moving into a new living space mentioned above? Well, the lift and shift approach (as its name implies) is the equivalent of moving your existing furniture into the new house. Similarly, you’re moving your application(s) and its associated data from your current on-premises data center to a new, existing cloud platform.

The lift and shift (aka: “rehosting”) approach is a faster and sometimes cheaper solution than building a custom cloud environment (aka: re-architecting). In fact, in 2016 GE Oil & Gas found that it could save roughly 30% of its costs by rehosting after migrating 500 applications in the cloud. Additionally, your applications will function similarly to when they were stored in your on-premises environment, eliminating an exponential learning curve. Most rehosting can be automated using tools, such as AWS VM Import/Export or Racemi, although some prefer to do so manually to learn how to apply their applications in a new cloud platform.

However, because the applications are simply being moved from one infrastructure to another, they aren’t able to take full advantage of cloud-native controls and features. Because of this, the lift and shift migration path can ultimately be more costly in the end, as you have to employ additional resources and tools to modernize and optimize your applications, bringing on technology debt.

Rehost and re-architect?

Another benefit of the lift and shift method—or any migration path—is that it doesn’t always have to be your only option. Oftentimes, organizations will rehost their applications to the cloud, familiarize themselves with the features of the cloud, and then re-architect a part of or the entire environment.

Like almost everything in life, choosing a migration path is not black and white. What is best for one company is not always the right path for another. If getting to the cloud quickly and on a budget is your goal, rehosting is probably the better option for you.

Stay tuned for our next blog that will take a closer look at the benefits and considerations of the re-architecting migration path, and how to determine which path is truly best for your organization.

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