Migrating your workload to a cloud-based enterprise can change your business’ entire IT landscape as it taps into the scale and flexibility of the cloud, while saving on your capital cost and reducing hardware requirements. There are many ways of migrating your applications, data and workload to cloud, the easiest and least expensive of which is the lift-and-shift method. Lift-and-shift is a strategy used to move applications from one platform to another, without redesigning the entire app. In other words, you take your workload as it is and run it on cloud-based services.
The complexity of the workload and its compute, storage and network requirements are the major factors to be considered before deciding whether to lift-and-shift the application or to re-architecture it. The factors should be mapped from the available resources in the on-premise infrastructure to what the cloud-based service can provide. There is scope for cost-savings to a large extent while migrating to cloud, as often, the resources on the premises are more than required, and optimal resources can be used in the cloud. The fact that most cloud-based services provide upgrades as you go means you can start with just what is necessary and upgrade when requirements change, resulting in maximised ROI.
Benefits of Lift-and-Shift Strategy for Cloud Migration
Lift-and-shift cloud migration, being easy and inexpensive, has various benefits as illustrated below:
- The key advantage here is that the application does not require any major changes in this method, as it is merely being re-hosted in the cloud. This saves time as well as resources for the enterprise, not to mention the costs that would have been incurred to re-develop the app from scratch.
- In addition to the framework of the app not requiring change, the business processes associated with the app as well as its monitoring and management interfaces also do not need any significant changes. This is because the architecture constructs remain the same even after migration to cloud using this approach.
- Specialised hardware like graphic cards can be replaced by specialised VMs in the cloud which provide similar capabilities, and the workloads which have these special requirements can be directly moved to these VMs through lift-and-shift migration.
- This method also allows for the migration of on-premise identity services components like Active Directory, to the cloud along with the migration of the application itself.
- It is relatively simple to migrate the application using this method as there are no major changes required in its architecture, which also reduces costs to a great extent. In addition, security and compliance management is also simple in this method as the requirements can be directly mapped to controls to be implemented against the compute, storage and network resources on both, the source and the destination cloud service.
Factors to consider before choosing the lift-and-shift approach
Before deciding to deploy this method for migrating applications to the cloud, it is important to first see if moving to the cloud makes the most business sense under the circumstances. Commercial, off-the-shelf apps with easily defined patterns are good candidates for lift and shift migrations. In contrast, if your application is more resource-intensive, for example, if it has something to do with big data analysis or image rendering, you are better off re-architecting the app because there is a risk of performance issues if it is directly re-hosted on the cloud.
It is also useful to analyse whether the app will be able to take full advantages of the features a cloud-based service can provide, like autoscaling and ephemeral compute. For example, legacy colocation apps may not be able to utilise these features to the desirable extent, making it more cost-efficient to either redesign the app or leave it on-premise itself.
Disadvantages of the lift-and-shift strategy for cloud migration
- Since you are essentially just “lifting” the application and moving it to a completely different environment without actually changing anything in the app itself, the change of environment might affect the operation of your workload. An IT project that started in an on-premises or original legacy system might have performance as well as latency issues in the new location.
- Another aspect to note is that just because no major changes are required in this approach, it does not mean the enterprise can simply move the app from its current location to the cloud. If the requirements of the application and the corresponding features on the cloud are not mapped accurately, the migration could face complete failure, costing the business time, effort and lots of money.
- Proper documentation of the requirements and a good operational design are also critical while lifting and shifting the app.
- If the application is facing any problems, make sure to solve them before the migration process, because there is always the risk of increasing the problem if the app is re-hosted.
In conclusion, choosing the right migration method is essential if businesses wish to migrate their applications to a cloud-based service. The lift-and-shift method is the fastest, easiest and least expensive method among all methods available. However, there are downsides to taking the easy road and one must be careful while using this technique. You need to first analyse if this is the best method for your application and business, and ensure you won’t face any problems after the migration. You also need to use the right tools to migrate your app using this method. All major cloud service providers offer migration tools, such as AWS Database Migration Service or Azure Database Migration. Intensive research and deliberation is the only way to choose the right migration method, as well as the right tools for migrating your app.