Lift and Shift to AWS demystified

Migrating mission-critical business applications to the cloud infrastructure can introduce multiple strategic and economic benefits, but the practicality of doing so often leaves IT managers scratching their heads. Workload migration to cloud-based services can change an enterprise’s IT landscape, tapping into the scale and agility of the cloud while converting CAPEX to OPEX. AWS has identified six main migration strategies that their customers have successfully used to migrate legacy systems and applications to the cloud. Each has its own pros, cons, and recommended use cases.

‘The 6 R’s’ of Migration- Ways to approach Migration

  • Rehost: Once the application is ready and working, it can be hosted on AWS. It is also referred to as “Lift and Shift”. It is a simple act of lifting your services and applications from your hosting environment and shifting them to the cloud. 
  • Replatform: If the customer has an outdated version of the application running on a hosting environment, then the application needs to be modified and then rehosted. Replatforming is a modification of “Lift and Shift”. It is about optimizing the cloud architecture to achieve the benefits without changing the core architecture of the application.
  • Repurchase: In case, there would be certain applications that won’t be compatible with the new architecture, then one needs to purchase a new application for the new architecture. AWS Marketplace provides a wide range of services which are also with a “Pay as you use” model. Repurchase is also called “drop and shop” where the customer is upgraded, implementation is made seamless and the application is made compatible with the new architecture. 
  • Refactor: Businesses that rely on seasonal demands often come across scaling hurdles. During peak seasons or growing demand, one may need to add new features and scale up the limits of the existing business model and performance that are difficult with the existing environment. By moving to a service-oriented architecture (SOA), will provide benefits to businesses in the longer run. 
  • Retire: Trimming down useless resources that is no longer useful to the business involves building a strategy that entails on optimization of new resources and removal of extra cost. With lesser things to worry about, one can focus on maintaining the resources used by the new business model.
  • Retain:  Not every application needs to move depending on the business case. Hence some sections of a project need migration. Adopting one of the above “R’s” will build a strategy to retain those applications, which, according to business are yet not ready to be migrated to the cloud or the applications that were upgraded recently.

Let’s talk more about “Lift and Shift”

To get maximum ROI from cloud computing, you have to deeply understand the services available to you, or you’ll just be running the same infrastructure on someone else’s computer. This is lovingly referred to as a ‘lift and shift’ migration — or taking your applications as they run in your data centers and simply replicating them in a cloud environment. The “lift and shift” — or, rehosting — migration strategy involves replicating in-house applications in the cloud without redesigning or re-architecting them. As such, it offers some clear advantages on being fast, highly automated, and easy over other options especially if the migration is large and needs to be accomplished quickly. The major considerations in a lift and shift migration are the compute, storage, and network requirements of the application. They should be mapped from what is currently available in source infrastructure to the matching resources in the cloud provider. There is scope for significant cost savings during the migration, where over-provisioned on-prem resources can be analyzed and mapped to optimal resource SKUs in the cloud. This is a minimal-risk approach to get maximum ROI. Many businesses start out with this approach when they don’t have many engineers with the skill-sets to work in a cloud-first environment. Replicating the existing application does not require a great deal of depth of cloud knowledge. There are also some workloads that simply can’t be refactored because they’re third-party software or it’s not a business priority to do a total rewrite. Simply shifting to the cloud is the end of the line for these workloads.

The benefits of Lift and Shift (Rehosting)

Lower cost

Re-architecting and/or redesigning applications to function optimally in the cloud is certainly an option, although the time and expense involved making it less than viable for many organizations. On the other hand, simply rehosting your applications in the cloud offers a budget-friendly alternative that gets the job done quickly. The lift and shift approach uses the same architecture constructs even after the migration to the cloud takes place. That means there are no significant changes required in terms of the business processes associated with the application as well as monitoring and management interfaces.


One of the key measures of success in any large-scale migration is that how seamless the migration is as far as end-users are concerned. A successful migration ensures that all of the functionality the end-users enjoyed prior to moving to the cloud should be readily available after the migration is complete, and at the same level of consistency, speed, and quality. This is certainly possible with rehosting, but — as with any migrations of mission-critical applications — it requires careful planning and execution. Multiple organizations have found that the expertise of a trusted and experienced cloud migration partner is invaluable in accomplishing this. The lift and shift cloud migration approach does not demand any application-level changes as it is merely being rehosted on the cloud. Workloads that demand specialized hardware, say, for example, graphical cards or HPC, can be directly moved to specialized VMs in the cloud, which will provide similar capabilities.

Third-party apps

In the case of off-the-shelf third-party applications (such as Atlassian Jira), the “lift and shift” strategy is essentially a no-brainer since re-architecting isn’t an option. So, if your organization relies heavily on third-party apps, this may well be the best option for you even if you have the resources available to invest in redesign prior to migration.  A lift and shift allow you to migrate your on-premises identity services components such as Active Directory to the cloud along with the application. Security and compliance management in a lift and shift cloud migration is relatively simple as you can translate the requirements to controls that should be implemented against compute, storage, and network resources

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Once the migration is completed, the organization begins enjoying the numerous benefits that come from every successful cloud migration:

    • Lower infrastructure costs

    • Improved elasticity

    • Improved reliability

    • Enhanced security

These benefits can translate to other important gains including:

    • Greater flexibility to introduce new tools and methodologies

    • More options for optimization and continuous improvement

    • Conserved resources that can be invested in growth and development

So, if you’re considering a large-scale migration to a cloud environment, you need to provide a fast, seamless experience for your end-users. If you rely heavily on third-party applications (like the Atlassian tech stack), the “lift and shift” rehosting migration strategy may be the best option for you. We’d like to help you “lift and shift” your applications to AWS. Please reach out to Addteq


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