Re-architecture or Lift and Shift Cloud Migration? Which is Right for You?

Migrating IT components to the cloud can provide some major benefits. It lowers dependency on in-house IT and infrastructure. When done properly, it can save considerable IT costs. For example, many small & medium businesses struggle backup and version control. A move to the cloud can save IT these expensive operations or the costly consequences of not doing them properly. It is relatively easy to find cloud solutions for IT’s building blocks: storage, CPU, and for hosting standard Web-based applications. However, the main obstacle is often on the application side. A lot of specific business applications were developed for the workstation world, and not for cloud or Web-based architectures. These include in-house-developments, but also specific apps for which there is not yet an equivalent Web-based version. In part one of our three part series what to look for when choosing the right cloud application migration solution, I will present advice for the “lift-and-shift” cloud migration approach – a term used for designating application migration without re-architecture or re-development. But is lift and shift cloud migration right in every situation? 

When the line between re-architecture and lift and shift cloud migration gets thin

While newer applications are typically web-enabled and easier to move to the cloud, the majority of legacy software must be redeveloped or refactored to ensure they work well in the new environment. The process can take months, sometimes even years. Hence a few problematic applications can delay your entire cloud migration project.

At this point, you will have to choose between redeveloping the app or trying a lift and shift cloud migration approach. Many times, there is no clear-cut answer as to which approach will work best and how fast the re-architecture will take. When the line is blurry and the overall re-architecture effort is unclear the best approach may be to work on both in parallel. Start with lift-and-shift cloud migration first, as it will:

  • Unblock the overall cloud migration project.
  • Serve as a backup plan in case the re-architecture plan ends up being more complex than initially thought.
  • Reduce pressure on the development teams. It is well known that pressure and software development / deployment do not go hand in hand. Pressure often causes poor architectural choices and forces a compromise between duration and long-term quality, especially when it comes to security.

The advantages of a hybrid approach

If possible, start as early as possible with a POC (proof of concept) on a small portion of the targeted population. This will help you identify possible issues and culprits. The sooner you find them, the better. Although the cloud is your final target, starting in your current environment is often the best way to initiate the project. Here’s why:

  • Shortest path to implementation. The sooner you can show a working POC, the better. Not only does it allow you to identify unexpected issues earlier, but it also reinforces trust in the overall project. Nothing is more concerning to a management team than a project with no intermediate, tangible results. Your legacy application may need to interact with other servers, shares or resources within your network. Letting the application run within your network allows you to leave these issues for later.
  • No additional security risks during the POC. When moving a business application to the cloud, security is always an important concern. Start testing on-premises to avoid security risks which you may not have thought of. Not only does it further shorten your path to the POC, it also spares you from security issues during this crucial first phase of the migration project. It will also help you get the project approved and started sooner. After all, no CEO ever wants to hear that their company’s data was breached due to an IT POC.
  • Easier to work with. During the POC, it is easier to diagnose issues or transfer large files on a server which is physically near you.

We hope you are enjoying our four part series on migrating applications to the cloud. If you missed one or more of the articles, please click the links below to view them:

Post 1: Migrating Complex Applications to the Cloud Can Eliminate Promised Cost Savings

Post 3: Migrating Applications to the Cloud: Presenting the Business Value and Calculating the Real Cost

Post 4: Migrating Applications to the Cloud: What’s the Right Solution?

Click here to read the next article, Migrating Applications to the Cloud: Presenting the Business Value and Calculating the Real Cost .

Have you dealt with a lift and shift cloud migration? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comment section.