Hackernoon logo3 Cloud Migration Strategies Explained by@sophie-zoria

3 Cloud Migration Strategies Explained

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@sophie-zoriaSophie Zoria

Cloud migration strategy has been among the hot topics for most companies all over the world for quite some time. Businesses turn to cloud solutions due to the numerous benefits and easiness of particular strategies available today. Remember that every cloud migration project plan must be carefully tailored to a short-term business objective and long-term goal. Below you can learn about the top three cloud data migration strategies, their pros and cons.

The Basics of Cloud Migration

What is cloud migration?

Cloud data migration is the process when business data, applications, infrastructure, and other components hosted on the local data centers gets moved to a cloud-based environment. Among the top cloud providers, you can check Amazon AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. These providers offer not only the cloud (hardware) itself but also plenty of additional services and apps for cloud management and continuous integration.

Why do you need cloud migration?

Cloud migration significantly lifts the heaviness of data computing processes from your local servers. It helps your workforce to focus on new processes development and improvement of the application rather than routine maintenance. Among the top benefits of cloud data migration, you can find:

Security: 94% of small businesses reported increased security offering of cloud services.

Scalability: the ability to grow or shrink your business becomes more accessible when most of the processes are handled in the cloud.

Automatic backups and logs: are offered by default and can be essential for disaster recovery.

Flexibility: teams don’t have to be in a particular location to fix issues, update, or deploy the application (especially crucial in the pandemic times).

Storage capacity: cloud storage capacity can be increased in the matter of several clicks as opposed to the purchase and installation of new servers on-site.

Performance: services, updates, and fixes get deployed in the matter of minutes which significantly increases the performance of the whole application.

Cost-as-go: only turned-on and used components are paid for; the process of payment is automated, so whenever a particular element is not used, it does not get billed.

Top 3 Cloud Data Migration Strategies 

1. Lift And Shift Migration (Rehosting)

It is the most basic and common cloud migration strategy. It basically drops the existing application with all its internal processes into the cloud. So the operational part remains untouched, only the storage location changes. And in this matter it is essential to ensure that after the migration, the paths to documents are set up within the cloud, so the app would not call for the local servers to retrieve any data. Due to its age and continuous popularity, the lift-and-shift approach is possible for various workloads and with vendors like Azure or AWS.


No changes: Code, architecture, and overall infrastructure of the app remain untouched; hence savings on re-testing and any development.

Quick and safe: This is a low-risk migration with minimal disruption in the operations. All core services get smoothly transferred fast and efficiently.

Low-security concerns: Since the application remains pretty much the same, the security and compliance teams would only need to review the cloud-part while keeping the rest of the rules intact.


No scalability: Simple transfer of an app to the cloud does not make it scalable or allows for distributed workloads.

Imperfect match: Some old applications would not run correctly after migration due to the age of their technology or incorrect mapping. In this case, be ready for latency and performance issues to arise.

High risks: If an app has issues in its current processes, migration to the cloud will not eliminate them but can even deepen.

When to consider

When you need to move to the cloud as soon as possible.

2. Technical Migration (Application Refactoring)

With this cloud data migration approach, you, not just copy-paste your existing app into the cloud, you will need to modify or upgrade the app OS and DB (while keeping the app itself untouched). Refactoring helps to embrace cloud-based flexibility and scalability while also keeping a large part of the app untouched. This strategy requires thorough preparation and consideration of the whole concept for a successful outcome.


Highest ROI: Since from the very beginning, resource requirements are matched with cloud infrastructure, scaling becomes very easy with the lowest use of resources. As a result, a stable long-term ROI.

Adaptation: Microservices and cloud-native architecture allow for an easy and fast adjustment of the existing applications to any market demand change. New features and modifications can be easily developed and implemented after refactoring.

Resilience: This feature is reached by decoupling app components and coupling managed solutions.


Inheritance of cloud features: Some would definitely be advantageous, but the deeper an app integrates with a cloud, the more cloud migration problems inherited from the cloud itself will appear.

Complexity: Refactoring is not as fast as the lift-and-shift strategy. It requires careful planning, much code changes, extended time for completion, and thorough testing afterward.

Skill and risks: Only high-skilled programmers can work on refactoring. And even the best skills would not guarantee the absence of errors at the code, configuration, or infrastructure level. The risks of delays increased cost, and possible outages are common for this approach.

When to consider

When you want to reuse and benefit from the languages, frameworks, and containers that your application already has while also leveraging the strategic code.

3. Application Migration (Replatforming)

This migration to cloud is the best if your business is looking for full cloud adoption potential. It is also the middle ground between the previous two options. While the idea of re-platforming is close to rehosting, the former does incorporate some application modifications to benefit from the new cloud infrastructure. In fact, this strategy leaves the business a choice on the scope of updates and changes that will be implemented after migration. Most commonly, businesses opt for either the change in application-database interaction or for the minimal code changes that allow for scaling and leveraging or the resources.


Cost: Replatforming does require upfront cost spending, but it is the most cost-effective since the business decides on the scope of changes based on the budget.

Scaling: This option can start small, like rehosting. However, when the business grows, new features and experiments with the cloud are possible to easily scale the business without committing to a large redevelopment project.

Cloud-native: Just like with refactoring, cloud-native features can be both good and bad needs for a business. However, re-platforming allows you not to include in your cloud migration project plan the clod-native features that do not suit you well.


Scope piling: With so many options to choose from, re-platforming can easily grow into a full-scale refactoring project. It is essential to control and limit the migration scope not to get too deep with it.

Many features: Sometimes, the many perks of the cloud drive PMs into the deep blue of unknown and exciting features that require many changes and work. It is essential to develop a re-platforming plan and carefully stick to it; otherwise, the new features with the lack of skill, time, and resources can destroy the little you already have.

Automation: This is an integral part of this cloud migration strategy.  Investment in automation is a must here; and if you do not have experience in this, then the assistance of cloud migration services can significantly simplify further operations in the cloud.

When to consider

When you want to optimize the current applications to advantage from the cloud infrastructure. 

Tip on Choosing the Right Cloud Migration Strategy

However luring and popular cloud data migration might be today, it is essential to turn to this strategy only when your business benefits from it. Carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of cloud migration before joining the cloud race. Remember that the migration is worth your effort only when:

It helps optimizing your application performance and maintenance.

The cost of maintenance and routine operations of the in-house IT infrastructure is higher than the cloud operations.

Your business and IT goals advance with the new cloud solution. 


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