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Cloud Migration: The Case for Skipping Lift-and-Shift

Businesses can benefit from the cloud native approach, leveraging elements like containers and microservices for cost-efficiency, portability and faster time-to-market.

Many companies start their cloud modernization journey by lifting-and-shifting existing applications and underlying resources from on-premises to the cloud with minimal transformation. Though quick and easy to implement, this approach can incur unexpected costs.

To get the full benefit of the cloud, companies should consider re-platforming, refactoring or even replacing legacy applications with cloud-based solutions. Each application should be part of a continuum, and decision-makers should carefully assess which approach is ideal for their organization.

Lift-and-shift is a journey

If your cloud migration plan is to start with rehosting, it becomes an incremental replatforming process that includes elements of automation or drop-in replacements for databases and events. The important point is that your singular move to the cloud is not a one-time event, but rather a continuous journey.

Also, it’s important not to get stuck in the re-hosting stage, as it can limit your potential savings and ability to leverage available cloud technologies. When you begin with a lift-and-shift, it can reduce your capex expenses and offload on-premises infrastructure. However, it does not necessarily simplify or streamline your operations. What’s more, it can lead to unexpected costs.

Lift-and-shift migrations require a lot of work. And still companies can be left wanting more, because they still did not gain all the benefits of the cloud.

As organizations migrate applications to the cloud, they should choose the best path for each application. In fact, to modernize effectively requires taking into consideration an organization's IT infrastructure, platform and applications. The journey will involve a continuous cycle of rehosting, replatforming, refactoring, replacing and more.

Legacy infrastructure can be a data roadblock

In legacy infrastructure, companies may lack the agility and speed required to optimize innovation. As a result, they may not be able to scale their business or innovate quickly enough to keep up with their competition. To counteract this issue, infrastructure modernization is necessary. It can help aggregate data and implement tools that enable deep insights and democratized access.

Also, legacy infrastructure can limit data strategies and prevent companies from fully leveraging their data. It’s natural to think that data should shape infrastructure design decisions, but data-driven organizations are finding that processes and application requirements should take priority when considering infrastructure design.

This limits data democratization and organizations’ ability to make data-driven decisions. Therefore, to enable better decision making, it’s necessary to modernize data access and use by aggregating data and implementing tools for ad hoc reporting.

Agility and engagement

Businesses are constantly struggling to increase productivity, protect budgets and remain competitive. They often modernize when they need to grow their business aggressively, reduce costs without jeopardizing their portfolio, or when they need to run different parts of their business in a cloud native space.

Businesses looking to modernize typically start by re-platforming or refactoring their stack to leverage platform-as-a-service elements in the cloud. They can then transition to using containers, serverless and microservices, while taking advantage of the resiliency and cost-efficiency of the cloud, as well as the portability of their data and stack.

First step of the journey: assess

Before you make the decision to migrate or modernize, you’ve got to evaluate your current business landscape, challenges and gaps. Assessing your operation gives you the assurance that you understand what you want, how to get there, what resources you have and what resources you’ll need to achieve your goals.

Understanding these issues will help you create a realistic roadmap and quantify your success. Too often, companies forget the assessment phase and jump into straight into creating their migration plan. They don’t consider their finish line, what good looks like or what they want to achieve from their investment.

Assessment is critical in all stages of modernization. The migration stakeholders, including the technologists, finance team, product ownership team and potentially a third-party partner, are all essential for success on the journey. By understanding the starting point, desired outcome and key inflection points, you can better ensure you have the information you need to make more informed migration decisions.

Value of a cloud native modernization approach

Executed well, the cloud native approach can reduce costs and free up vital resources to work on innovation. This improves adaptability and the ability to meet infrastructure needs and service demands. It also provides more room for research and innovation. For example, spinning up a lab environment takes two minutes instead of two weeks, thereby, increasing speed-to-market.

Big picture, it brings peace of mind, freedom from monotonous tasks and promotes collaboration. It also creates a more resilient technology stack, resulting in fewer exceptions or emergencies, and greater robustness and confidence across the business.

It all starts with a conversation about understanding your business challenges and opportunities. Our global team of modernization experts can help create a roadmap that places your needs first — and help you deploy solutions on your preferred cloud provider. Our experts can help you transform in the cloud using the most suitable technology for your workloads.


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About the Authors

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CTO - Public Cloud

Travis Runty

As a technologist with extensive global leadership experience in the cloud space, Travis boasts a strong track record of successfully building and leading high-performance engineering teams that deliver innovative solutions. Fostering an engineering culture has resulted in a collaborative, agile, and customer-focused work environment that consistently achieves business outcomes.   With a deep understanding of hyperscalers, Travis effectively creates partnerships and aligns solutions to leverage their strengths, driving significant revenue growth and improved customer satisfaction. Committed to organizational success, Travis employs a strategic approach that harnesses emerging technologies and focuses relentlessly on delivering customer value. Travis has been in the Cloud Computing space for nearly 20 years. 

Read more about Travis Runty