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The term ‘lift-and-shift’ undoubtedly sends shivers down the spine of any cloud computing expert worth their salt - myself included.
When done properly, the ability to rehost a workload or application from ageing on-prem IT to modern cloud infrastructure can help businesses looking to save time, reduce costs and modernise effectively. However, there is a misconception in the industry that a lift-and-shift approach to cloud is the panacea for all ills that can be performed on a whim to improve business operations and digital capabilities. This is quite a short-termist view that will inevitably only provide a sticking plaster to the perennial problems of lost efficiency and high costs.
Put simply, like any change project, cloud is an investment that needs the right cloud strategy, planning and expert team in place to make it successful in the organisational setting. Whatever the business’ stage of cloud adoption and application development lifecycle, it is necessary to undertake critical steps such as a Well Architected Review to build the most resilient, secure, high-performing and efficient infrastructure as possible while mitigating complexity and preventing problems from surfacing down the line. Unlocking the undeniable benefits of the cloud needs a more long-term vision, approach and attitude.
Recent research by Synergy Research Group shows that on-premise data centres will be sticking around for some time to come. Many of the businesses operating in them will inevitably consider migrating to the cloud, and they should consider the benefits of collaborating with a cloud IT partner to ensure transformative change continues long after the initial migration effort.
The pitfalls of lift-and-shift
Some businesses drawn into the lift-and-shift marketing ploy find that they can't fully leverage any of its associated benefits. Even worse, they may encounter unexpected problems post-migration if inconsistencies are carried across from the on-premise environment.
Taking the time to understand your application's architecture can go a long way to anticipating or fixing any problems that may occur before or after the migration has taken place. To provide a real-world example, I was once contacted for help by a company that began to experience performance-related issues in two of its business applications that had already been “shifted” to the cloud. When this occurs, one possibility is that the software has been optimised for on-premise IT but is unoptimised for the cloud, so we carried out a Well-Architected Review to evaluate and improve the company’s server architecture. Not only did this fix the applications’ sluggish performance, it also reduced the company’s cloud costs by a fifth.
Evolving the cloud for long-term success
Undertaking a lift-and-shift (or any cloud migration) alone is unlikely to yield significant benefits in the short term. However, businesses can set themselves up for long-term success by collaborating with cloud IT experts who can build or enhance cloud infrastructure to maximise organisational efficiency.
This includes implementing cost optimisation strategies to continually monitor and analyse spending over time, saving on compute costs without sacrificing performance and taking advantage of discounts based on usage patterns. At the same time, companies can offload routine infrastructure tasks to the cloud provider, allowing IT teams to focus more on strategic projects and core business activities.
Innovation and agility are key drivers of success in the cloud. Businesses should encourage a culture of experimentation and constant improvement, tapping into machine learning and AI services to gain deeper insights from their data, predict trends and make data-driven decisions.
While a lift-and-shift migration can be a valuable first step for businesses seeking to modernise and save costs, it should not be the end of the cloud journey. With the right level of expert guidance, effort and attitude, it can prove the catalyst for maximising efficiency in the cloud for years to come.