Lift and Shift: A Holistic Approach to Application Modernization

“Lift and shift” is a fast and inexpensive way to migrate applications from on-premises to the cloud. Learn how lift and shift can advance your path to app modernization.

December 27, 2022
6 mins read
Last Updated June 05, 2023
Lift and Shift

Lift and Shift: A Holistic Approach to Application Modernization

Modernizing your monolithic application can transform your business’s IT landscape, tapping into agility, efficiency, and cost optimization.

But how do you modernize your application?

Re-architect, modernize, migrate, or custom develop – there are multiple approaches to application modernization!

One of the easiest, quickest and inexpensive ways to modernize your application is to migrate your existing workload seamlessly to the cloud. This is known as the lift and shift.

In this blog post, we’ll look closely at the lift and shift approach and its role in your application modernization journey.

Simform is a leading provider of application modernization services that assists organizations with a hassle-free lift and shift of applications. Consult our experts to know more about this approach.

What is lift and shift, and why do you need it?

Lift and shift is a way of migrating apps along with its associated data to a trusted and scalable infrastructure without changing the architecture.

For instance, Cordant Group, a leading security management company, used the lift and shift method to migrate infrastructure to the AWS cloud. It migrated multiple websites, client desktop services, and business-critical SQL databases to virtual cloud because of the scale of its operations. All of which resulted in significant cost savings, robust backups, and enterprise-level features.

By transitioning to a highly adaptable cloud architecture, the lift and shift method paves the way for digital transformation. It brings multiple benefits to a business, like lower optimization costs, better flexibility, enhanced speed, innovation, and resilience.

Advantages of lift and shift

1. High-end security

Security is a prime concern for businesses as its consequences are severe and far-reaching. Companies that fall victim to a cyberattack may lose a fortune in revenue and experience permanent damage to their brand reputation.

Security Risks

Companies can bolster cybersecurity by relocating from on-premise network solutions to cloud-based environments. In addition, they can use multifactor authentication and leading-edge cybersecurity measures to safeguard existing infrastructure.

Ultimately, this will protect business continuity and reduce the risk of cyberattacks.

2. No further changes in infrastructure

Lift and shift migration model rehost an application to the cloud with no substantial modifications. That means, enterprises can avoid the costs associated with app re-architecting and business process modifications.

Further, the management and monitoring interfaces also remain unchanged.

3. Cost-effective

Migrating applications, operating systems, and data sources to a new environment is highly time-consuming and labor-intensive. Plus, if the project takes a long time, the company needs numerous resources, which means increased on-premise infrastructure costs.

Lift and shift reduce the need to modify code or architecture. It allows enterprises to migrate databases without requiring a large team. Further, it keeps the on-premises applications running during the migration. Subsequently, there is no downtime, and users have the same application experience.

4. Better scalability

Lift and shift help enterprises use the increased resources at their disposal to maximize the ROI of IT systems.

Furthermore, enterprise applications can utilize additional resources during peak usage hours and scale back at other times. Thus there is no need for enterprises to invest in expensive on-premises applications. Instead, they can modify their computing capacity by leveraging the standard pay-per-use cloud storage model.

Challenges of lift and shift

Despite its remarkable benefits, lift and shift is not free from obstacles. Its scope is limited compared to actual cloud-native apps. Such apps may improve in the cloud, but they won’t ever reach their full potential.

Here are the challenges of lift and shift:

1. Security risks

The applications designed in an on-premise climate may have weak access rights. So when enterprises “lift and shift” mission-critical applications to the cloud, those rights also get migrated. Moreover, the cloud has a complex and shared model, and these weak rights may expose vulnerabilities. AWS services such as AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), AWS Key Management Service (KMS), and AWS Security Hub help ensure high levels of security for cloud environments.

2. Performance issues

Legacy apps are mostly hosted over on-premises infrastructure. Therefore, they could perform less effectively even after migrating to the cloud. To address performance concers, AWS offers services like Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling, Amazon CloudFront, and Amazon Aurora, which provides scalability, content delivery, and high-performance database capabilities.

While simple commercial apps won’t cause much trouble, a complex on-premise app that underwent significant modifications might not carry over well into the cloud. In such cases, after-the-fact tweaks will be necessary.

3. Exorbitant costs

Regarding ongoing costs, the shift to migration mainly entails switching from capital expenditure (CapEx) to operating expenditure (OpEx). Likewise, if you have to make significant post-migration changes to lifted-and-shifted resource-intensive apps, you may not experience noteworthy performance improvements. AWS Cost Explorer, AWS Savings Plans, and AWS Budgets assist in cost optimization, cost monitoring, and resource allocation to achieve cost-effectiveness in the cloud.

Main phases of lift and shift

Basically, the lift and shift approach will replicate your current infrastructure, servers, and data to the cloud. Successful cloud migrations avoid these pitfalls by working through three key migration areas:

1. Assessment

This is the initial phase of the lift and shift process. Here, your cloud vendor analyzes your current system and processes to determine if lift-and-shift migration is possible. After this, they conduct automated discovery to gain a complete picture of the entire IT landscape.

The cloud vendors, will then, identify the elements of your existing system, identify gaps, and determine the good and bad areas. Finally, offer possible solutions to improve those bad areas and fill the gaps in the modernization process.

2. Planning

After the system assessment, the next phase is planning the migration. So, start with defining a clear business case, the technical side of the job, and the governance of such a process.

Then, incorporate a security assessment of the new system.

Last but not least, plan the training and education of your ops teams. You can also use tools like AWS Application Discovery Service for planning.

3. Migration

This is where the migration process starts!

For migration, first, prepare your cloud environment, set up the accounts, and add users. Then, validate the work done in each phase.

Next, prepare your current system for migration. This usually includes installing software agents on servers and connecting them with a dedicated control center.

Finally, use AWS CloudEndure Migration to perform a migration process, including servers rehosting and automatic data migration, with no or minimal downtime.

Lift and shift compared to other migration approaches

Factors like risk management, compatibility, better availability, scalability, or enhanced performance are crucial for successful cloud migration. Therefore, one should consider all the application components and interactions before selecting the most appropriate approach.

1. SaaS vs. Lift and Shift

In a SaaS model, one has to replace the existing app functionalities or components with a third-party service. The right SaaS migration delivers the benefits of low migration cost along with the cloud advantages of PaaS migration.

While in the lift and shift approach, one takes your on-premises application as-is and moves it to a new environment. Here they have to pay for the cloud infrastructure on a per-usage basis.

2. Paas vs. Lift and shift

PaaS is a cloud migration startegy that enables an enterprise to make changes to its application’s codebase to make it cloud-native. It involves significant effort in refactoring the application and making changes to place new components or replace the older ones.

On the contrary, lift and shift is a straightforward data migration strategy. One can do it after analyzing the infrastructure support matrix in the cloud. Also, lift and shift works well for enterprises whose legacy apps do not have matching PaaS services available on the cloud.

3. Refactoring vs. Lift and shift

The refactoring approach involves new languages and tools, utilizing APIs for communication, and improving performance by moving to a compiled language from an interpreted one.

Whereas lift and shift is a straightforward strategy. Here, you just have to analyze cloud infrastructure and resources. Moreover, you can rehost applications to the cloud without significant changes in workflows or infrastructure.

When should you adopt the lift and shift approach?

One can convert capital expense to an operational one with the help of lift and shift. To ensure a successful migration, you should plan your migration, including all the necessary resources. Here are some scenarios where you can use the lift and shift strategy:

1. When you need an absolute cloud migration

If you have decided to move your entire infrastructure to the cloud and want to vacate your data center or terminate lease contracts, the lift and shift approach can help you quickly migrate your existing applications and data to the cloud platform.

Cloud related Injuries

Lift and shift moves the app and data with little to no modification to a cloud platform. You might need to adjust the host while going to a new cloud environment. But contrary to other migration procedures, you can shift your data to the cloud server in minimum time and investment as compared to other migration methods.

2. When you want to save big on costs

Lift and shift enables cost savings by migrating workloads to the cloud with minimal modifications. You can avoid the need to renew expensive licenses or invest in upgrading outdated service components. Utilizing tools like AWS Cost Explorer and AWS Savings Plans can help you optimize costs further.

You can rehost apps at a lower cost within the cloud rather than purchasing a new solution that is costly to maintain. There are plenty of cost calculators depending on what kind of platform you will move to. AWS, IBM, Azure, Rackspace, etc., are a few companies that offer such calculators.

3. When you have a lack of expertise in cloud-native solutions

If your organization lacks expertise in cloud-native solutions but still needs to adopt new platforms or increase storage, the lift and shift approach can be suitable. It allows you to address immediate demands and seamlessly scale your business without extensive cloud-native knowledge. Leveraging AWS Managed Services can provide simplified management and support.

Cloud Quote

Nowadays, companies are facing a lack of expertise in the cloud. Under these conditions, the physical movement should be promptly followed by phase two activities involving cloud modernization and employee development. Long-term success will require expert technical assistance, training and mentorship, and ongoing development.

4. When you don’t have proper documentation

Refactoring is one of the most critical aspects of an efficient application modernization strategy. In cases where you lack proper documentation or understanding of your application’s structure, a lift and shift approach can be helpful. It allows you to migrate the application to the cloud quickly, even with limited knowledge of its inner workings. Once in the cloud, you can prioritize optimization or consider replacing it later. Utilizing AWS Application Discovery Service can assist in the automated discovery of on-premises applications.

It’s important to note that while the lift and shift approach provides advantages such as faster migration and cost savings, it may not fully leverage the benefits of cloud-native services. Consider your specific requirements and long-term goals before deciding on the appropriate migration strategy.

How to get the most of this approach

To maximize the benefits of legacy application modernization, leverage the AWS Well-Architected Framework. It provides best practices for designing reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective systems on AWS, ensuring optimized infrastructure and application performance.

Monitor and optimize resources during modernization. Use AWS CloudWatch for real-time monitoring of application and infrastructure metrics, logs, and alarms. It provides valuable insights to identify performance bottlenecks and optimize resource allocation. AWS Trusted Advisor offers proactive guidance to enhance security, cost optimization, and system performance.

Automate resource provisioning. With AWS CloudFormation, you can define infrastructure as code, automating resource deployment and configuration for consistency, scalability, and reproducibility.

Incorporating these AWS services and practices enhances efficiency, scalability, security, and cost-effectiveness. Before starting the migration journey, assess feasibility, consider business objectives, prepare for new processes, and evaluate in-house vs. outsourced approaches. Collaborating with tech experts helps understand resource-intensive legacy infrastructure.

Simform has the capabilities and expertise to make app modernization seamless and cost-effective. This includes application reassessment, re-architecture, redesign, app migration, and custom development with modern tools and technologies. With vast experience in delivering successful migration projects using lift and shift, our team ensures a seamless migration experience. Contact us to start your migration journey today.

Tejas is a Senior Tech Consultant at Simform excelling in mobile and server-side technologies, with extensive experience in working closely with startups and enterprises. His expertise in understanding tech has helped businesses achieve excellence over the long run.

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