What is lift and shift migration?

Today, the majority of businesses use on-premises systems and applications, which come with a number of limitations, including high initial investment costs, difficult management, limited scalability, and the requirement for hardware replacements every three to five years. Maintaining an organization’s existing on-premises infrastructure leads to an increased operational burden and a drain on IT funds for firms that are already operating with limited budgets and resources. In light of these difficulties with on-premises infrastructure, many IT companies are considering a shift to the cloud in order to escape the time-consuming and financially draining cycle of purchasing, maintaining, and upgrading their own hardware, software, services, and networking.

The process of migrating to a new cloud infrastructure or environment is both thrilling and challenging. Transitioning to cloud servers is undeniably the future for almost any business. However, moving to a new cloud environment is always challenging due to the fact that data is continually being used and updated, and new server connections must be configured precisely to prevent pauses in the data flow.

In recent years, businesses across numerous industries have implemented cloud migration initiatives, and optimizing the existing cloud resources is their number one cloud-related priority, followed by migrating additional workloads to the cloud. According to Gartner’s ‘cloud shift’ research, by 2025, major market segments will spend more than half of their enterprise IT budgets on the cloud. Migrating to the cloud does not necessarily have to be a difficult process; all that is required is the right preparation and planning. Hence, determining the optimal strategy is an important part of cloud migration preparation.

Today, there are many different cloud migration strategies to choose from, and not all of them are created equal when it comes to updating legacy on-premises applications and processes. When compared to alternative cloud migration methodologies, lift and shift migration is faster, requires less work and fewer resources to implement, and can save time and money. In this article, we are going to focus on the lift and shift migration and look into how the lift and shift migration process works and its benefits.

What is "lift and shift"?

Lift and shift migration, also known as rehosting, entail the process of moving your entire application and associated data from on-premises to a public or private cloud-based environment on an IaaS model (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) with minimal or no changes. As a result of the lift-and-shift migration approach, businesses can keep their applications operating with little to no downtime. The cloud essentially acts as a new data center, where applications are “lifted” from their current on-premise settings and “shifted” without modification.

Consequently, there are typically no major adjustments to the application’s design, data flow, or authentication processes before or during migration because they cannot be properly redesigned as cloud-native. In rare cases, using the lift-and-shift migration approach, a minuscule change is possible where the retooling is limited to architecture, and this is one of the primary aspects of the lift-and-shift migration approach that distinguishes it from other ways of migration to the cloud, such as refactoring and re-platforming.

A lift and shift strategy can be the quickest path to cost savings while migrating to the cloud. Businesses can benefit from features like pay-per-consumption and auto-scaling by replicating their applications in the cloud. The application’s computing, storage, and network requirements are the primary factors in a lift and shift migration. They should be mapped from what is currently accessible in the source infrastructure to the cloud provider’s matching resources. Over-provisioned on-premises resources can be assessed and matched to optimal resource SKUs in the cloud, allowing for significant cost savings throughout the migration. Because most cloud service providers enable on-the-fly upgrades, you can begin with a smaller product and gradually progress to a larger one. This is a low-risk method for maximizing ROI.

How does the lift and shift migration process work?

The lift-and-shift migration approach is frequently utilized as an alternative to complete cloud migration and can serve as a highly effective proof of concept. During the initial stages of setting up cloud storage, only certain data, workloads, and application databases are migrated using the lift-and-shift approach.

The lift and shift approach requires businesses first to prepare their on-premises and cloud environments and carry out different assessments and validations. Before deciding whether or not to move a service to the cloud, we need to conduct a number of validations. For instance, a comprehensive metrics study of the service, what are the resource requirements at the time of peak traffic, backup requirements, does the workload require a separate storage tier, additional compute power, whether the service is running on bare-metal or leveraging virtualization, any proprietary library, run-time technology & frameworks, operating systems, their versions, infrastructure integration & network requirements, and so on are all necessary. This assessment and validation task can be carried out using automated tools provided by the cloud provider.

Before transferring any data or applications, businesses must first set up a test environment in the cloud. Once on-premises and cloud infrastructures have been configured and tested, then initiate the lift-and-shift process. In order to transfer information from an organization’s on-premises data center to a cloud data center, both locations must establish a high-speed, high-bandwidth, secure network connection.

The lift-and-shift process should be implemented in phases; otherwise, it may cause compatibility issues with the on-premises applications. To move data to the cloud more quickly and efficiently, select only a subset of the data to be transferred initially. In most cases, the data being moved to the cloud will include both static and blob data. Data stored on the persistent disks of the instances is also replicated to the cloud in order to preserve the state of the users.

Even if the workload was not designed to function in the cloud’s distributed environment, using the cloud’s computing resources, it could function in the same way as if it were hosted on-prem. The compute instances available in the cloud vary in terms of CPU power, memory capacity, graphics processing unit (GPU) capability for graphical rendering and machine learning algorithm execution, and more. Businesses can choose the appropriate instance types for their workloads.

Following a successful lift-and-shift operation, additional data can be relocated. Migrating your applications to the cloud can begin once the cloud-based infrastructure is fully functional and all data has been transferred. The re-architecture of applications can be done at a later point in time to leverage the other features of the cloud.

In most cases, cloud service providers offer cutting-edge resources that facilitate Lift & Shift. As a result of using these tools, the complexity of the migration process is reduced, and testing and validation of configurations are handled automatically. Furthermore, it provides rollbacks in the event that something goes wrong, offers analytical dashboards, and more. Almost every step of the migration is fully automated. Read Google Cloud’s Lift & Shift migration whitepaper for a deeper dive into the technical aspects of the move.

What kinds of applications are suitable for Lift & Shift Migration to the Cloud?

Any application can be lifted and shifted to the cloud, but there are some that are more suitable than others. There is no ideal, one-size-fits-all solution for moving applications and workloads to the cloud. Lift & Shift does not always imply shifting the full workload to the cloud in a single move. It is also possible to accomplish it in stages. What module or service is moved to the cloud initially is determined by the engineering teams after contemplating their service architecture. Systems and applications that would not considerably benefit from the re-architecture in terms of performance or cost are the best suitable for lift and shift migration approach. Complex and resource-heavy systems, such as those that require more processing and analytical capacity and workloads with multiple dependencies, may require re-architecture to achieve full efficiency and be more cloud-friendly. Every situation is different from one another, there are always trade-offs and a lot of factors to consider.

When to choose a lift-and-shift migration approach

Now, let’s examine some of the key considerations when determining whether or not to choose the lift-and-shift migration approach to the cloud.

A business can consider lifting & shifting its workload, applications, and data to the cloud, if a business is paying a lot of money on its on-premises infrastructure and believes that migrating their service to the cloud will considerably reduce expenses. When data center leases are up or when security holes in legacy technology put data and customers in danger. As an added bonus, it’s a viable choice for businesses that would rather not devote resources to infrastructure upkeep in favor of focusing on product development.

Besides cost considerations, the other reason for considering the lift and shift approach is to free up the engineering staff to concentrate on developing and releasing innovative new features rather than constantly addressing and fixing bugs in the existing infrastructure.

Another reason to think about the lift-and-shift cloud migration strategy is when re-architecting or developing the application from scratch is not an option. This could be because of the costs involved, a lack of time or resources, or the fact that redesigning the workload could make it hard for the business to run.

Yet another reason to think about is when a business requires backup and recovery that is more affordable and scalable. Moving backups from on-premises to the cloud is a typical use case in all businesses except those with the most stringent RPOs/RTOs (recovery point objectives/recovery time objectives).

It’s important to note that “lift and shift” isn’t just a “cut and paste” solution; rather, it’s frequently the first step toward digital transformation. In fact, many businesses decide to improve their IT operations after moving to the cloud. This is because migrating to the cloud guarantees consistent usage of cutting-edge cloud tools.

Benefits of the lift and shift approach

Let’s take a look at the benefits of the “Lift and Shift” migration approach for moving data, workloads, and applications to the cloud:

The lift and shift cloud migration approach necessitates no application-level modifications because the application is simply rehosted on the cloud so that there is no service interruption and the application experience for users remains unchanged.

Workloads and applications that require specialized hardware, such as graphics cards or high-performance computing (HPC), can be moved directly to specialized VMs in the cloud, which offer comparable capabilities.

With a lift and shift approach, you can move the application to the cloud while also moving the identity services components, like Active Directory, from on-premises.

In a lift-and-shift cloud migration approach, security and compliance management are relatively straightforward because requirements can be translated into controls to be implemented on computing, storage, and network resources.

With the lift-and-shift method, the same architecture is used even after the move to the cloud. That means there aren’t any big changes that need to be made to the business processes and interfaces for monitoring and managing the application.

The process of “lift and shift” allows you to run applications on newer, more powerful hardware without having to shell out any cash to make the upgrade.

Using cloud services on a pay-as-you-go basis, businesses can expand their data center’s processing power, storage space, and network while reducing the size and expense of their physical data center.

Lift and shift allow business organizations to scale an application without purchasing and installing additional computing capacity. In addition, businesses will not need to overprovision hardware to accommodate peak traffic periods.

In conclusion

One of the crucial steps in developing a migration strategy is deciding which migration approach you will take. The lift and shift approach continues to be the most efficient, low-risk, and cost-effective way to get up and running in the cloud. To get the most out of your lift and shift migration, you’ll need the proper resources. In the case of lift and shift migration, the advantages far outweigh the potential drawbacks. By doing thorough planning beforehand, you can minimize the potential downsides of a lift-and-shift migration. Not everything has to be moved to the cloud. Consider alternatives to those you intend to retain.

Are you prepared to move your applications and workloads to the cloud? Learn how Sparity can help your business with a lift and shift data migration approach.

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