Benefits and risks of lift & shift migration to public cloud

Lift & shift is a common option for moving on-premises apps in the cloud while avoiding application re-designing. The aim of Lift & shift is to provision, import, and deploy applications and infrastructure resources to match existing, on-premises architecture without modification. Our customer companies choose to lift and shift in order to reduce on-premise infrastructure costs and then re-architecture application once it is in the cloud.  

Typical example of Lift & shift is copying virtual machines (containing applications and data) and storage files (just data) across the internet into a pre-deployed target public cloud account. Although Lift and shift can be done manually, the process can and should be automated with tools such as AWS Server Migration Service.

Benefits of Lift and shift cloud migration

While Lift and shift is not the only way of migrating to the cloud, it can be the fastest and cheapest migration method. Compared to replatforming and refactoring business are limited cost, effort and complexity. Some of our customers also find that it is easier to re-architecture applications once they are running in public cloud, mostly because during the process of migrating the application, data and traffic, they also develop better skills.

Summary of benefits:

  • Migrate fast to public cloud
  • Reduced risk compared to replatforming and and refactoring
  • Lower initial cost compared to replatforming and and refactoring
  • Thanks to multiple cloud native and partner tools available, the process can be highly automated with limited or no downtime.

Risks of Lift and shift

Lift and shift is appeals because it is easiest way of migrating to public cloud, but it isn’t without its risks and opportunity costs.

Most typical challenge we see with Lift and shift is that existing applications are not properly resized for public cloud, as outside the cloud applications are often over-provisioned for peak load. In worst case scenario the application architecture is not cloud ready or cloud friendly resulting in degraded performance, or operational issues.

Secondly, just copying applications and data without understanding what’s what, means everything is pulled to the public cloud, including insecure configurations and malware. Therefore lift and shift project should not be conducted with lack of effective security governance, risk management, compliance with company’s security policy.  

Also actual costs may be more than estimates, which can be caused by inaccurate resource estimates, providers changing prices due to upgrading, or bad performance resulting in the need for more resources.

Thirdly, applications that are lift & shifted to the public cloud may be able to take full advantage of the cost-efficiencies of native cloud features such as autoscaling and ephemeral computing.

Summary of risks:

  • Inefficient and expensive cloud consumption.
  • Lack of understanding of the cloud. Inefficiency of work, or data leakage with wrong operation due to lack of cloud knowledge.
  • Poor cost & workload estimation to due to lack of cloud skills or understanding of application data.

Nordcloud has proven services that can effectively mitigate lift and shift risks. Our post migration capacity optimisation service reduces cloud spend to optimal level and our training and advisory services can train IT organisation and create operating model that leverages cloud benefits. We believe that lift and shift is a valid option for IT organisations that want to progress fast.

Read about Nordcloud Migration Factory here

Petri Pekkarinen

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Ilja Summala
Ilja Summala LinkedIn
Ilja’s passion and tech knowledge help customers transform how they manage infrastructure and develop apps in cloud.