Why 'Lift and Shift' isn't the optimal approach for cloud migrations

5-6 minute read

You shouldn't just copy your existing infrastructure over when it comes to cloud migration. 

Below I provide some guidelines that can help your organization migrate to the cloud successfully.

Moving to the cloud and cloud adoption is only the start of the journey.  Many cloud journeys trigger the transformation of numerous aspects of an organization, from IT to product development, and even accounting. But just shifting existing infrastructure 'as-is' to the cloud isn’t optimal or enough. Organizations should first evaluate strategies that optimize your cloud processes and workloads so as to increase the business value you’ll get from the Cloud. 
Begin with the end in mind - Stephen Covey
Cloud migrations have many moving parts. There are many best practice frameworks like the Cloud Adoption Framework and agile accelerators like the Migration Acceleration Program.  These approaches can combine project delivery methodology with migration tools, training, and professional services to assist organizations on their journey.

AWS is credited with identifying 'the 6 Rs' of migrating applications to the cloud. Gartner's '5rs' of migration date back even further. Even though developed by AWS/Gartner they apply in principle to most or all cloud migrations.  During the Application Portfolio Discovery and Migration Planning process these different strategies are considered.  A critical part of this process is determining the correct approach when it comes to choosing an appropriate migration strategy for individual application workloads.

The 6 Rs — Migration Patterns

Below we will examine specific scenarios where organizations can realize opportunities that can impact their migration strategies in a positive way.

Seizing opportunities and taking advantage

Typically, a fair amount of an application portfolio falls into the 'commodity' category.  'Commodity' applications are generally characterized by a low rate of change, are not business-critical, and have standard availability requirements. Another category is 'Mission Critical' where the applications are critical to business processes and often come with high availability & reliability requirements.

In many cases, organizations are hesitant to re-platform 'Mission Critical' applications.  This can sometimes lead to missed opportunities and unrealized value.  In some cases, with adequate planning and preparations, it may make sense, particularly if the application doesn't align from an architectural perspective.

One example might be traditional SAP applications like ECC or BW landscapes.  These applications can present an opportunity to be transformed to SAP HANA.  It's not as revolutionary a transition as it might seem.  Most organizations that utilize SAP already know they will need to eventually migrate SAP to the cloud.

Another example is migrating Oracle data warehouses and business intelligence data to native AWS services such as Redshift.  Amazon Redshift provides a fast and fully managed petabyte-scale data warehouse service for organizations.  This approach can make it simple and cost-effective to analyze all your data using your existing business intelligence tools. Migrating an organization's data warehouse to Amazon Redshift can dramatically improve query and data load performance, increase scalability, and even reduce costs, all while delivering additional value during cloud migration.

Spring Cleaning

When organizations start the cloud journey they inevitably consider the “lift and shift” approach.  This simple migration approach is effective but does not enable consideration of additional options such as:

SaaS Migration: This approach covers migration to a SaaS equivalent before or during a cloud migration. During the application discovery process, organizations should determine whether or not that application fits into the future-state application portfolio vision.  SaaS solutions and providers can greatly reduce IT operations & overhead, reduce the total cost of ownership and increase end-user satisfaction if they can be converted in an acceptable timeframe and within a reasonable budget.

Retiring old applications: It is a common occurrence for organizations to bear the weight of applications that are difficult to enhance and/or support.  Digital Transformation and enhancing the end-user experience can sometimes be achieved by moving to a new solution entirely. Just because you have migrated an application to the cloud doesn't mean that it will change the end-users’ perspective of the overall application experience.  Investigating new options and alternatives will though.

In Conclusion

Datacenter and cloud migration is an attempt for an organization to increase productivity and value while delivering to a set of pre-determined outcomes. 'Lift and shift' or simple 'Cut and Paste' migration approaches may work for some applications, but in many cases, it will not bear out the optimal solution for your organization. Organizations can start by researching best practice migration strategies. Determining the migration patterns for your enterprise application portfolio will have a tremendous effect on the overall quality and success of the migration and will ensure that you fulfill your commitments meet requirements.

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