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Cloud lift-and-shift

Cloud lift-and-shift refers to the practice of moving business applications to the cloud without modifying them to take full advantage of the cloud.


It enables organizations to remove the capital expense of owning a data center, but it can incur performance issues and lead to additional costs. It should be approached with caution...

What is it?

Moving an application to the cloud as-is instead of further modifying it so you can fully exploit the potential of the cloud.

What’s in it for you?

It can eliminate your need for long-term, expensive investments in data centers.

What are the trade-offs?

By not optimizing your applications for the cloud, you’re more likely to incur additional costs and may even suffer performance issues.

How is it being used?

Despite its limitations, cloud lift-and-shift is helpful when organizations urgently need to move applications out of existing data centers.

What is cloud lift-and-shift?


Cloud lift-and-shift entails moving your business applications to the cloud without optimizing them to run in the cloud. Typically, this means replacing the on-premise computers and networks on which an application runs with similar — but not identical — virtualized cloud services.


A lift-and-shift strategy does enable an organization to rapidly move to the cloud. And if your data center is approaching its end of life, lift-and-shift can be useful. However, unless you have a strategy to modernize those applications in the long term, you’ll end up making suboptimal use of the cloud. You may not be able to take advantage of cloud’s flexibility or pay-as-you-use options.

What’s in it for you?


If you have an urgent need to move out of your data center or if your legacy application is too complex to rearchitect, lift and shift can help the transition to the cloud.

What are the trade-offs of cloud lift-and-shift?


If your applications aren’t optimized for the cloud, they can use more compute, storage and network resources than necessary — which means you’re wasting money.


You might also encounter a performance hit, when compared to how your applications ran in your data center. Again, that can result in a financial hit for your enterprise.


One of the big risks with cloud lift-and-shift is that businesses assume they’ll be able to do the necessary rearchitecting work down the line, only to discover that it’s harder and takes longer than they planned for.


You’ll also need to consider the security implications of cloud lift-and-shift. Traditional applications in your data center would likely have used perimeter-based security through the use of firewalls and zoning. In the cloud, such approaches are obsolete, leaving you with a question of how to secure the applications that you’ve lifted and shifted.

How is cloud lift-and-shift being used?


Sometimes, when used carefully, cloud lift-and-shift can be an effective stop-gap measure to move out of the data center provided it is also backed by a plan to subsequently modernize the applications. 


But all too often lift-and-shift is done because enterprises treat the cloud as just another hosting option. This is partly a consequence of some cloud providers encouraging companies to move everything to the cloud as fast as possible., which unfortunately means businesses will struggle to properly realize the cloud's promises of agility.

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