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What is lift and shift?

Think strategy: Lift and shift is an approach, one among many, for migrating your apps to the cloud. It means moving an application and its associated data to a cloud platform—without redesigning the app.

There’s no one-size-fits-all transition for moving an application from your on-premises data center to the cloud. But there are acknowledged core migration paths; many consider lift and shift (AKA rehosting) one of them. It’s a way for companies to protect their investments in business workflow, logic, and data trapped in on-premises hardware.

The lift-and-shift approach opens paths to IT modernization by moving to an open and more extensible architecture in the cloud. Companies consider lift and shift for solid business reasons, including reduced costs and improved performance and resiliency.

However, one enterprise strategist offers 4 reasons to re-consider lift and shift to the cloud. He contends that applications perform and evolve relative to their environments; and that the cloud provides superior size and diversity of services versus on-premises data centers.

When is the lift-and-shift cloud migration model a good fit?

With the lift-and-shift approach, on-premises applications can move to the cloud without redesign. But they can’t always take full advantage of native-cloud features, so this may not be the most cost-effective migration path. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2020, organizations lacking cost-optimization processes will average 40% overspend in the public cloud (Ed Anderson, 2018).

To avoid sticker shock, companies need a cost-allocation strategy, as well as clear-cut roles within the organization to monitor cloud spending. This will likely require additional tools.

Lift-and-shift applications can deliver:

  • Quick cost savings. Down Jones lowered IT costs by more than 25%. GE Oil & Gas realized 52% cost savings through lift and shift.
  • A path to the cloud now. In 2008 NetFlix experienced a major outage, preventing DVDs from shipping to customers. And triggering the growing company’s journey to the cloud.
  • Cloud disaster recovery.  Moving data to a cloud location gives firms a second, highly available site. Cost savings over the previous DR plan is a common secondary effect.
  • Relief from technical debt. Legacy systems can be slow and expensive to maintain. Additional horsepower, like Amazon’s x1e.32xlarge, may provide the boost you need now.

5 strategies to consider

Once you’ve committed to cloud migration, the options can be bewildering: IaaS? PaaS? SaaS? Gartner identified five highways to the cloud; here’s a look at each.

  • Rehost. This is infrastructure as a service (IaaS), or lift and shift. You rehost your application in another hardware environment without changing the app’s architecture. Migration is fast and relatively inexpensive, but ongoing operation can be costly because you’re not leveraging cloud efficiencies.
  • Refactor. Also known as platform as a service (PaaS): You run your apps on a cloud provider’s infrastructure. Developers can reuse languages, frameworks, and containers leveraging code that’s strategic to the company. The downside is missing capabilities, transitive risk, and framework lock-in.
  • Revise. First, you support legacy-modernization requirements by modifying or extending the existing code; then take the rehost or refactor route to the cloud. This means you can leverage the cloud characteristics of your provider’s infrastructure—but not without some upfront development expense.
  • Rebuild. You throw out the code for an existing app and rearchitect it. The advantage is access to innovative features in the provider’s platform that improve developer productivity. The price you pay is either lock-in or abandoning your application assets if the situation becomes unacceptable.
  • Replace. Discard your existing application set and adopt commercial software delivered as a service (SaaS). When requirements for a business function change quickly, this approach avoids the time and investment of mobilizing a development team. But you may face issues like inconsistent data semantics, difficult data-access, and vendor lock-in.

Bottom line: Consider the larger picture; which cloud platform and migration technique will best optimize the application to drive your business and IT goals?

Ask the right questions

Guidance for cloud strategy and cloud-computing policies will vary for each of the possible routes to the cloud. For example, are you:

  • Rehosting an application "as is" (lift and shift) on cloud infrastructure as a service?
  • Refactoring (or even rebuilding) an application to take full advantage of the new environment and platform, with the goal of becoming more agile or saving money?
  • Replacing an existing system with a ready-made SaaS application (abandoning your current system)?
  • Releasing an internal business process (e.g., invoicing, payment collection, or salary administration) to an external business-process-as-a-service (BPaaS) provider?

Ask what your organization may look like down the road (i.e., as a digital business). Will the business process your app supports now still be required (or still performed internally) by then? For a given process, the decision tree might look like this:

  • Will we need this process long term? If not, how can we gracefully fade it out? What new processes do we need to prepare for?
  • Do we need or want to perform this process in house? If not, let’s consider BPaaS.
  • Can we simply consume the required functionality for this process as SaaS?
  • For more flexibility, can we customize (using PaaS) or run it ourselves, but avoid having to manage a full middleware stack (again PaaS)?
  • If we need to run it ourselves on bare infrastructure, can we use a shared (public or hosted private) infrastructure service (IaaS)?

Ask the right questions to set your cloud compass in a direction that delivers real business value.

NetApp and lift-and-shift

Many companies are delaying migration of their file-based workloads to the cloud over concerns that they’ll lose some of the capabilities they enjoy on premises. NetApp® Cloud Volumes removes these concerns. By design, it delivers extreme performance and advanced data management capabilities to satisfy even your most demanding applications in the cloud.

Cloud Volumes addresses many of the cloud-migration challenges you face with:

  • Superior latency and performance relative to current native-cloud file services
  • Fully implemented NAS protocols, including version options not commonly available from cloud providers
  • Advanced data management features such as automated sync and snapshots, rapid clones, cloud backup and replication
  • Scalability consistent with on-premises storage
  • No requirement to rearchitect enterprise applications for object storage or slower performing cloud storage

Cloud Volumes promises sub-2ms latency, making it ideal for data center applications running in the cloud. Performance tiers will be available to allow for flexible cost/performance tradeoffs.

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