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What Is Lift and Shift Migration?

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Lift and shift migration is a rapid technique used to migrate applications and infrastructure from on-premises environments to the cloud. It involves transferring the existing system as is, without making significant modifications or optimisations. While it offers several benefits, it also has its drawbacks.

What Is Lift and Shift?

Lift and shift migration, also known as rehosting or migration without modification, is a cloud migration approach where applications and infrastructure are moved from one environment to another without making substantial changes to the underlying architecture. The primary goal of lift and shift is to quickly transition applications from on-premises data centers to the cloud, typically leveraging infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms.

How Lift and Shift Migration Works

The lift and shift migration process involves several steps. Here's a breakdown of the typical six-step migration process:

1. Assess and analyse: Evaluate the existing infrastructure, applications, and dependencies to determine feasibility and compatibility with the target cloud environment.

2. Provision resources: Set up the necessary resources in the cloud environment, such as virtual machines, storage, and networking, to replicate the on-premises infrastructure.

3. Replicate data: Transfer the data from on-premises systems to the cloud storage, ensuring data integrity and maintaining synchronization during the migration process.

4. Lift and shift: Move the application workloads, including the operating system, middleware, and applications, to the cloud infrastructure. This step involves minimal modifications, mainly focusing on adjusting configurations for the new environment.

5. Validate and test: Perform thorough testing to ensure the migrated applications are functioning correctly in the cloud environment. Validate the data integrity and conduct performance tests to identify any issues or bottlenecks.

6. Cut over: Redirect the traffic from the on-premises infrastructure to the cloud environment. This involves updating DNS records or other networking configurations to ensure users are accessing the application from the cloud.

What Are the Advantages of Lift and Shift?

Lift and Shift Is a Fast Migration Method

One of the significant advantages of lift and shift migration is its speed. Since it involves minimal modifications to the existing system, it can be completed relatively quickly compared to other migration approaches. Organisations can rapidly transition their applications to the cloud without extensive redevelopment or rearchitecting efforts.

Lift and Shift Cloud Migration Isn't Disruptive

By maintaining the same architecture and dependencies, lift and shift migration minimizes the impact on the application's functionality and user experience. It reduces the risk of introducing new bugs or issues during the migration process, as the system remains largely unchanged.

Retain Your Architecture with Lift and Shift

For legacy applications or those with complex architectures, lift and shift migration offers a valuable advantage by preserving the existing architecture. It allows organisations to take advantage of the cloud's scalability, availability, and cost benefits without requiring significant redesign or refactoring.

What Are the Drawbacks to Lift and Shift Migration?

Lift and Shift Can Have Limited Benefits

While lift and shift migration provides a quick path to the cloud, it may not fully leverage the benefits of cloud-native services. By merely replicating the existing infrastructure, organisations miss out on opportunities to optimise and modernise their applications to take advantage of the cloud's native capabilities.

Performance Can Diminish After Lift and Shift

Without optimizing the applications for the cloud environment, there’s a risk of experiencing performance issues. Lift and shift migration may not take full advantage of autoscaling, load balancing, or other cloud-native features, potentially leading to suboptimal performance compared to a rearchitected solution.

Lift and Shift Security Concerns

Migrating to the cloud requires careful consideration of security measures. While lift and shift migration can maintain the same security controls as the on-premises environment, it may not fully exploit the security features offered by the cloud platform. Organisations should ensure that security considerations are thoroughly addressed when opting for lift and shift migration.

Lift and Shift on Azure

Using Azure Migrate to Move to the Cloud

Azure provides various tools and services to facilitate lift and shift migration. Azure Migrate is a central hub that helps assess on-premises workloads and provides guidance for migrating to Azure. It offers discovery, assessment, and migration capabilities, enabling organisations to plan and execute their migration projects effectively.

Azure Site Recovery Can Migrate Your Services

Azure Site Recovery (ASR) is another tool offered by Azure to facilitate migration. It provides disaster recovery and migration capabilities by replicating workloads from on-premises or other cloud environments to Azure. ASR supports both virtual and physical machines, making it a versatile option for lift and shift migration.

Free and Open Source Tools for Lift and Shift


CloudEndure is a migration tool that automates the process of replicating and migrating applications to the cloud. It supports various platforms, including AWS, Azure, and GCP, and can perform continuous replication to ensure minimal downtime during the migration.

Carbonite Migrate

Carbonite Migrate simplifies the migration process by automating the movement of physical, virtual, and cloud workloads. It provides features like live migration, incremental replication, and testing capabilities to ensure a smooth transition.

AWS Server Migration Service

While primarily designed for AWS, the AWS Server Migration Service (SMS) can also be used for cross-cloud or hybrid-cloud migrations. It offers a lightweight agent that replicates on-premises servers to AWS, allowing organisations to migrate their workloads quickly.

Why Pure Storage for Lift and Shift Migration

Lift and shift migration offers a quick way to move applications and infrastructure to the cloud. While it provides speed and minimizes disruption, organisations should carefully consider the limitations and potential drawbacks. 

Depending on the specific requirements and goals, other migration approaches like rearchitecting or refactoring may be more suitable. However, for legacy systems or applications with complex architectures, lift and shift migration can be an effective strategy to quickly leverage the benefits of the cloud.

One way to make cloud migration easy is through Pure Cloud Block Store™, which offers integrations with key hyperscaler cloud migration tools and works for on-premises private-cloud, hybrid-cloud, or multicloud environments. Learn more about Pure Cloud Block Store.

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