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, offering a rapid entry to the cloud with minimal resources and low initial cost. Lift and shift can seem like an optimal migration strategy for organizations stuck with legacy operating systems.

Lift and shift suffers from significant drawbacks, however, especially if workloads aren’t already cloud ready. An alternative cloud migration strategy is VirtaMove application repackaging. Read on to learn about some of the drawbacks associated with lift and shift and how VirtaMove Migration Intelligence solutions may provide an alternative strategy for your cloud-first endeavors.

What is Lift and Shift?

Lift and shift, also called re-hosting, 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.

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.

“As Is” Means No Savings in Operational Expenses

Lift and shift migration is fast and appears to be relatively inexpensive upfront. However, operational costs may quickly increase. According to Gartner:

Through 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 reports that companies that migrate workloads “as-is” to the cloud “run the risk of losing most, or even all, of the hoped-for savings of winding down costly on-premise 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, because 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, as well as 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

Lifting and shifting traditional enterprise architectures to the cloud translates to few agility gains for organizations. Limitations of enterprise architectures and retained legacy operating systems result in having to employ traditional change management processes and manual steps in the cloud. This rules out agility in the platform and results in poor business agility moving into the future.

The purpose of a migration 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 centre, 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 as they are, and lift and shift offers few cost savings and agility gains for legacy servers. Perhaps you aren’t able to 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, much like 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 focus on applications only, rather than entire servers. Software automatically discovers all the applications running in your network. With monitoring enabled for a few days or weeks, get deep insights about your server and application estate. You can determine which applications are candidates for cloud migration and select only these applications for 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, and pay for only what you need in the cloud. You can exclude whichever elements you don’t want to move, such as specific user account and log files, and select elements you do want to move, such as specific application services or components, and even scheduled tasks.

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

Leave Legacy Servers Behind

If your applications are trapped in a legacy server operating system, VirtaMove’s repackaging decouples the application from the operating system. This means that you can move your application to a modern, supported operating system version like Windows Server 2019 and leave legacy behind. 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, patented moving container as a migration vehicle. However, once in the cloud, you can remove all dependence on VirtaMove. The migrated application will behave on the new server as if natively installed. Reconfiguring variables such as host names and IP addresses so that the application works correctly on a new server can be 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 a 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’ll be able to work in the cloud, using a modern environment and cutting-edge management tools.


VirtaMove’s migration suite offers a quick, cost effective path to the cloud, with no business disruption. 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 application state and enjoy cloud benefits, while keeping your footprint optimized and ongoing costs down. 

Even if your longer 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.

Submitted by

Valerie Yates
Content Manager |

Valerie is a seasoned content writer and editor in the tech domain.