It has been three years since we first established the productivity and cost guidance for migrating legacy apps to new servers.  In that time a lot has changed.  Productivity has continued to improve, and costs have reduced.  The basic “do nothing” hurdle remains. IT organizations don’t move old applications to modern, secure Windows servers because it takes too long, costs too much, and requires too much internal resourcing. Many organizations would love modern apps, but bottom line they “just can’t modernize,” despite the substantial security risks involved in staying stuck in the past. VirtaMove migration software is designed to overcome those hurdles and enhance legacy application modernization productivity.

This blog provides guidelines for migration productivity: the average time, cost and resourcing required to move apps from 100 legacy Windows Servers to modern, secure Windows servers. It outlines VirtaMove patented container-based software and best practices that expedite the migration process and support our rule-of-thumb productivity metrics. Estimates are based on real-world experience over more than 10 years using VirtaMove on hundreds of major customer projects across many fields and sectors.

How Long Will it Take and How Much Will it Cost?

Using automated migration software to move applications from legacy Windows Servers will save over 90% of the time and over 80% of the cost compared to traditional manual migration or app re-development efforts. This is a substantial improvement of productivity in just 3 years.

In 1 week….
One experienced application mover can move approximately 3 servers.

In 1 month…
→ One experienced application mover can move approx. 10-12 servers into production.

In 1 year…
→ One experienced application mover can move approx. 120 servers.
 If you have 400-500 servers to move and migrate, you’ll need 4-5 application movers for one year.

As the graph below outlines, productivity of 3 server migrations per week doesn’t mean it will take 2 days to do a migration. While some migrations may take a couple of days, many take 2 weeks or more to complete because of unavoidable testing and operational wait states.

Figure 1: Estimated Migration Time to Move WS2008 Apps to a Modern Windows Server

Estimated Migration Time to Move Legacy WS2008 Apps to a Modern Windows Server

The Key to Maintaining Application Migration Productivity

The key to maintaining application migration productivity of 3 migrations per week is multitasking. Migration automation lets you work on many migrations at once.

If the average migration completion time is 2 weeks…
An application mover will need to work on 6 simultaneous migrations to achieve 3 migrations per week.

If the average migration completion time is 2 weeks…
→ An application mover will need to work on 4 simultaneous migrations to achieve 2 migrations per week.

The automated migration effort includes planning, server provisioning, migration, UAT and production cutover. It doesn’t assume the availability of app source code or install scripts. Productivity increases with experience and time and will vary based on the operational flexibility of the IT environment.

VirtaMove Subscription Pricing

Using patented container-based AI software to perform a stateful re-install using VirtaMove Migration Intelligence Suite allows you to move up at less than 10% of the cost per server migration compared to traditional migration methods.

Stateful re-install using VirtaMove V-Migrate:
$2,500 USD per migration license. With volume and annual subscription licensing cost drop below $1,000 per migration license. Most customers use their own in-house trained teams to do migrations.

Vs. traditional migration methods:

Hand migration and new install of the same application stack on a modern server:
2 months per server – More than $25,000/source server migration.

Full Application stack re-development, remediation, and re-licensing:
More than 4 months per server – More than $100,000/source server plus maintenance fees.

Factors that Affect Migration Productivity

Many factors affect application migration productivity. The more operationally nimble an organization is, the shorter the wait states. Shorter and fewer wait states lead to greater migration productivity and less time and lower cost for each server migration. An adaptable operations team can support approximately 10 server migrations, per application mover, per month; a less adaptable team may only support 6 server migrations per application mover per month.

Productivity factors include:

  • The OS version of the source legacy Windows Server and new target server
  • The number and nature of the applications on each legacy server
  • Commonality between applications
  • Knowledge about each application
  • Application licensing and security requirements
  • The amount of data
  • The dependency between applications on each server, and the tiered dependency between applications that work across many servers
  • Available network bandwidth
  • The sizing and provisioning of target servers
  • The hardening process and security standards on the target servers
  • The availability of skilled users for acceptance testing
  • The response rate and adaptability of the operations team when wait states happen
  • The production cut-over process and the server decommissioning process

How Do We Deal with Server and Application Factors?

A suite of Migration Intelligence tools coupled with a proven methodology help Application Movers automate movement of legacy applications to modern, secure Windows servers.

V-Maestro – an Orchestration tool that manages intelligent agents. It publishes agents out to servers on your network under your control. V-Maestro:

  • discovers applications and servers across your network
  • maps dependencies between applications
  • develops migration templates
  • manages the versioning and removal of agents
  • automates the movement of applications between source and target servers

V-Maestro lets you select only the apps you’re interested in monitoring. It provides capacity planning metrics for your new servers, monitoring reports, and lets you assign roles and users to migration projects. When the system has learned the application and a full migration template is developed, the app is highlighted as “ready” for migration.

V-Monitor – an application discovery and monitoring agent. Monitoring provides critical usage information. With V-Monitor you can:

  • detect which applications are running on which Windows server
  • determine which applications are used and how frequently
  • prioritize and size migration tasks
  • build a migration plan

V-Monitor Reporting shows which server applications should be decommissioned and which applications are ideal targets for automated migration. It captures application dependencies, which means less acceptance testing post migration.

V-Migrate – an application migration agent. V-Migrate moves server applications to a new operating system; for example, from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2016 or 2019. If you’re moving to Windows Server 2019, you can get there in one step – no need to first upgrade to Windows Server 2012 and then 2016. Modernizing lets you leverage features of a new operating system and avoids the extended support fees and security risks of running on unsupported systems.

Best Practices for Using Migration Intelligence Suite

VirtaMove’s best practices minimize wait states and reduce the time needed for a migration.

Application monitoring

  • Monitoring speeds up the migration process and reduces the duration of the UAT cycle. During monitoring, knowledgeable app users exercise all the features of an application to develop an accurate migration template. Templating reduces testing efforts post migration.

A fast network with lots of bandwidth

  • A fast network helps to move applications and data quickly between source and target servers.

Knowledgeable users and application testers

  • Knowledgeable users and testers help shorten testing efforts post migration.

Available security and application license keys

  • Application migration will suffer delays if you lack required security and license keys.

A server provisioning precheck list

  • Spending time upfront developing a server provisioning precheck list helps minimize the rework needed on new target servers.

Organize migrations into groups

  • Organizing similar applications into common migration groups lets you work on parallel tracks, speeds up the migration process, and can unlock re-usable migration templates.

Scheduling testing and cutover timeframes and procedure

  • Scheduling testing and cutover is important, as is communicating the schedule. Don’t schedule a critical testing or acceptance step when your application expert or key IT resource is on vacation.



Automation can help you move forward significantly, at a reduced cost. The many benefits of running apps on modern, secure servers will far offset the modest costs involved in upgrading hardware and operating systems. In many cases, you can expect a pay off from your nominal investments in a couple of months or less.

We hope that our productivity heuristics and cost estimates help advance your understanding of automated migration productivity. If you have any questions about this productivity or would like us to help you with your modernization cost benefit analysis, reach out to us. We’d be happy to share what we know.