What is lift and shift?

Lift and shift is a way to migrate an application to a public cloud without rewriting the app or workflow to be optimized for that modern cloud environment. Lift and shift is often implemented as rehosting through an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider. The complexity of an application or operation is a key factor in deciding whether it should be lifted and shifted or rearchitected as a new cloud-native application or operation.


Pros and cons of lift and shift

Lift and shift is generally a quick and easy way to eliminate the expensive overhead costs of maintaining on-premises servers. By simply rehosting applications in a cloud environment, organizations can continue to operate with minimal service interruption and avoid the high potential costs of rebuilding or redesigning their systems. In the early days of cloud computing, the lift-and-shift approach was commonly used for replicating on-premises applications in the cloud to avoid costly, time-consuming redesign. However, many legacy colocation applications that were lifted and shifted to the cloud were not able to take full advantage of the cost efficiencies of native cloud features, including autoscaling. While commercial, off-the-shelf applications with easily defined patterns were often good candidates for lifting and shifting, rearchitecting was often a better option for resource-intensive applications, such as those used for big data analysis and image rendering.


Lift and shift as part of a longer term strategy

A common approach to lift and shift is to move an application to the cloud in order to reduce on-premises infrastructure costs in the short term, then refactoring the application once it’s in the cloud. Lift and shift makes it possible to make necessary changes over time without compromising crucial business operations. Once everything is in the public cloud, it’s a simple matter of making minor adjustments as needed, avoiding the problem of maintaining two separate infrastructures and putting off migration until everything is “just right.”


Suggested Reading and Related Topics

  • Autoscaling: Learn how autoscaling is enables you to automatically grow or shrink the number of compute resources that are allocated to your application based on its needs at any given time.
  • Cloud native services: Make informed cloud migration strategy decisions by understanding the types of cloud-native services that are not available with lift and shift.
  • Rearchitecting and refactoring: Understand how lift and shift differs from rearchitecting and refactoring cloud migration options.