Businesses are accelerating their migration to the cloud. Total spending on cloud services is projected to exceed $1.0 trillion by 2024, and the cloud industry has a compounded growth rate (CAGR) of 15.7%.

IT Operations can decide among several pathways to the cloud. The most common model is the Lift and shift approach. It offers a low cost and rapid entry to the cloud while requiring minimal resources. As a result, lift and shift cloud migrations can seem like an optimal strategy for organizations stuck with legacy operating systems.

Lift and shift cloud migrations suffer from significant drawbacks. Particularly if workloads aren’t already cloud ready. An alternative cloud migration strategy is application repackaging. Read on to learn about some of the drawbacks associated with lift and shift and how application repackaging may provide an alternative for your cloud-first endeavors.

What is Lift and Shift?

Lift and shift is sometimes referred to as re-hosting. It is the process of migrating an exact copy of an application or workload (and its data store and OS) from one IT environment to another. Migration is usually from on-premises physical servers to a public or private cloud environment.

Legacy applications are “lifted” as is and “shifted” to a cloud-hosted virtual machine. This approach involves no change to application architecture and little or no change to application code.

Some benefits of Lift and Shift include:

  • Speed: No changes to application architecture or code means that migration can occur rapidly with relatively little planning.
  • Low Initial Costs: With no changes to the application, migration is less complex and less labor-intensive than a full re-architecture project.

Disadvantages of Lift and Shift

According to IBM, “the long-term value of migrating an application ‘as-is’ that cannot leverage the cloud environment has diminished dramatically.

Today, lift and shift is considered primarily as an option for migrating workloads that are cloud-ready to some degree (e.g., VMware workloads, containerized applications, apps built on micro-services architecture) or as a first step in the process of rearchitecting a monolithic application for the cloud, on the cloud.

Migrating “As Is” Means No Savings in Operational Expenses

Lift and shift migrations are fast and appear to be relatively inexpensive upfront. However, operational costs may quickly increase. According to Gartner:

“By 2020, 80% of organizations conducting a ‘lift-and-shift’ migration of internal business applications from their own data centers to public cloud IaaS will not achieve meaningful cost savings.”

Bain & Company warns that companies migrating their workloads “as-is” to the cloud. That they “run the risk of losing most, or even all, of the hoped-for savings of winding down costly on-premises data centers.”.

An “as-is” approach may mean a poorly optimized migration that incurs greater costs over the long run. For example:

  • VMs that aren’t right-sized for the cloud will incur unnecessary ongoing costs.
  • Migrated applications might suffer from latency or performance issues or fail to function.
  • Making applications work on new virtual servers may require complex reconfiguration work.
  • Copying an entire server means that you bring along outdated, unsupported operating systems and their artifacts. In addition to unnecessary applications and files, such as log files.
  • You’ll pay premium cloud processing and storage fees for elements you don’t need. You also pay premium fees for managing a legacy operating system.

Few Agility Gains

Migrating enterprise architectures using lift and shift to the cloud translates to few agility gains for organizations. Limitations of enterprise architectures and retained legacy operating systems results in having to employ traditional change management processes and creates manual steps in the process. These rules out the potential agility gains from migrating to the new platform and results in poor business agility moving into the future.

The purpose of server migrations is to get to modernized environments that offer better performance, security, and services. A lift and shift approach that retains a legacy operating system will not bring improvements in these areas.

In some ways, lift and shift forces organizations to use the cloud as a data center, with all the expenses and few of the benefits of the cloud.

VirtaMove Application Repackaging as an Alternative Strategy

Perhaps your organization wants to move application workloads to the cloud. However, your workloads aren’t cloud-ready. Perhaps you can’t begin refactoring, rearchitecting, or rebuilding a mission-critical application to make it cloud-friendly at this time, due to budgetary or resource constraints. An alternative migration strategy is to use VirtaMove’s Migration Intelligence suite.

VirtaMove’s patented, AI-driven, application repackaging software gets your workloads to the cloud quickly, similar to how lift and shift can. However, the focus is different, lending itself to longer-term gains and benefits.

An Application-Centric Approach

VirtaMove and its suite of migration solutions target the applications only, rather than entire servers. The software automatically discovers all the applications running in your network. When users enable monitoring for a few days or weeks, they can get deep insights about their server and application states. Our tools help determine which applications are candidates for cloud migrations. Then they select only these applications for the migration. This keeps bandwidth requirements low during migration and minimizes potentially costly cloud storage and processing fees moving forwards.

VirtaMove’s application repackaging lets you move only what you need in the cloud. Such as specific application services or components, and even scheduled tasks. You can also exclude whichever elements you don’t want to move, such as specific user accounts and log files.

The applications you want to move are captured in their entirety via application templates. These ensure a shorter testing cycle and a successful migration. The capture process preserves the current state of the application, which maintains all your data, configurations, patches, and upgrades.

Leave Legacy Servers Behind

If your applications are trapped in a legacy server operating system we have a solution. VirtaMove’s repackaging allows you to decouple applications from their operating system. This means that you can move your applications off unsupported legacy operating systems like Windows Server 2003/2008/2012 directly to a supported operating system version like Windows Server 2019. This means that you can:

  • Use cloud services and tools that are unavailable to legacy operating systems
  • Close security gaps that exist on legacy servers
  • Improve performance by using new modern hardware
  • Retire legacy servers

VirtaMove uses a proprietary and patented moving container as a migration vehicle. However once migrated to the cloud, you can remove the VirtaMove container all dependence on. The migrated application will behave on the new server as if natively installed. Reconfiguring variables such as hostnames and IP addresses so that the application works correctly on a new server is done automatically and dynamically by VirtaMove’s migration solution.

Enjoy Immediate Benefits While You Plan for the Future

Once in the cloud, your organization can enhance an application using traditional change management processes. You could perform vulnerability analysis and remediate apps as required to fix problems, such as cross-site scripting or other software issues.

If you decide to start planning for an application rebuilding project, you will be able to work in the cloud. This provides a modern environment and cutting-edge management tools.


VirtaMove’s migration suite offers a cost-effective path to the cloud, with no business disruptions. An automated approach minimizes resource requirements and gets you to the cloud in days or weeks, instead of months or years.

An application-centric approach means that you can move selected application workloads to the cloud while leaving behind legacy operating systems and clutter that make no sense in a cloud environment. You get to preserve the application state and enjoy cloud benefits while keeping your footprint optimized and ongoing costs down.

Even if your long-term plan is to rebuild a monolithic application, VirtaMove can be a complementary step in this direction – getting your application to a modern environment, where your future project efforts will be more effective.

If you want a quick path to the cloud with none of the drawbacks of lift and shift, ask us about VirtaMove Migration Intelligence software and services. 

If you’re still not sure, one of our migration experts can walk you through a migration in only 20 minutes. Click here to book your free demo today.

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