Pros and Cons of Different Cloud Migration Strategies

Migrating to the cloud makes a whole lot of sense for businesses and organizations, as cloud computing packs some big advantages over traditional, on-premises local storage. The cloud offers on-demand access to computing power for information storage, data processing, and running remote software. 

What connects the three uses of the cloud is that they offer computer resources whenever and wherever is required. The cloud promises scalability, flexibility, cost savings, resiliency, availability, and accessibility — all without the user having to worry about maintaining physical computing infrastructure. All they need to tap their cloud computing resources is an internet connection. 

But while ease of use is a big selling point when it comes to cloud migration, there is plenty of nuance to be aware of when it comes to application migration to the cloud. Here are the pluses and minuses of three popular migration strategies:

1. Refactoring

Refactoring, or rewriting, is probably the most intensive of cloud migration strategies. A refactored application must be re-architected and re-coded to ensure that the asset fits within the target environment. However, once this has been done, you’ve got an application that’s tailor-made (literally!) for the cloud native environment. Refactoring makes the most sense in scenarios where efficiency of cloud application is crucial, your organization wants to take full advantage of the capabilities offered by the cloud, and agility is a major focus. 


  • An application that’s fast, responsive, and resilient. If you want to take advantage of everything the cloud has to offer, this is your best option.
  • As noted below, the migration cost can be high. But, like demolishing your house to build an optimized eco-home, this option can prove more cost-effective over time.


  • The migration process can take a long time, especially in scenarios where complete refactoring is required. This migration process can entail a high degree of cost.
  • Refactoring is complex, requiring expertise in cloud migration and management.
  • There is a risk of vendor lock-in. 

2. Lift and shift

Also called “rehosting,” lift and shift involves picking up all your data, applications, and assorted assets from one location and shifting them to a different location. There’s no complex refactoring involved since there’s no change to the migrated assets. This makes it the cheap and cheerful approach to cloud application migration. But sometimes that’s exactly what is needed.


  • Faster, cheaper, and with less risk than refactoring.
  • Brings some of the advantages you’d expect from the cloud, including the potential for improved performance by running on updated hardware, without having to worry about maintaining that hardware.


  • You might not be afforded the scalability and features that accompany native cloud.

3. Containerization

Containers allow you to migrate an application to the cloud piecemeal without having to worry about refactoring everything before commencing cloud migration. A container lets you lift and shift some components of the application, while also electing to refactor others where necessary. This reduces Time to Mitigation (TTM), risk, and cost. Containers, as their name suggests, refer to self-contained units in which code can be stored along with any libraries or dependencies it needs in order to be able to run. 


  • Write once and then run anywhere: Containerization gives you plenty of portability between different environments.


  • Not suitable for every application. There’s also a lot of setup work in order to manage your container strategy in a way that’s effective and efficient, particularly in a hybrid environment.

Migrating to the cloud the right way

The cloud migration process is a necessary one for many organizations to have to traverse. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to perfect cloud migration strategies. 

It’s important that you properly assess your portfolio applications to ensure you pick the right strategy for each, or for your applications as a whole. In some cases, lift and shift will work perfectly as a solution, allowing you to quickly take advantage of the benefits of the cloud without a lengthy migration period and plenty of cost. In other cases, refactoring and redesigning may be the only way forward — and the best choice if you want to gain long-term success from your cloud migration. Weigh up cost, security, performance, ease of use, and other potential positives and negatives as you make your choice.

You’ll also want to take into account the kind of cloud environment you’re moving to — whether this is a public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud (meaning both public and private), or multi-cloud (utilizing multiple public cloud vendors.) 

Migrating to the cloud means that you must optimize apps and data in a way that allows them to run most effectively in their new environment. For help with this, seek out experts who can assist you with the process, while providing you with greater data mobility between environments. In some cases, it may be entirely unnecessary to refactor or have to pick and choose components to get the full benefits of the cloud. Make the right decisions at this point and you will reap the rewards as you carry out the migration process.

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