Lift and Shift, Refactor, or Replatform? What’s the Best Approach to Application Migration?

Which application migration is right for you? Here are the pros and cons of lift and shift, refactor, and re-platforming […]

By zivaro|March 2, 2021|0 Comments

Which application migration is right for you? Here are the pros and cons of lift and shift, refactor, and re-platforming to help you make an informed choice.

There are clear benefits to migrating applications from one computing environment to another.

But one thing any small business or online platform that migrates must consider is the type of application migration they’ll use.

Lift and shift, refactor, and re-platforming all come with their advantages. But each has its own set of challenges and drawbacks as well.

Here’s more on why cloud migrations are beneficial for your business, plus the benefits and drawbacks of each of these three options.

Why migrate applications to the cloud?

The main reasons people move applications to the cloud are lower costs and the ability to scale.

In-house computing solutions can be useful for running your business. But migrating to the cloud opens up a new world of possibilities and can improve business outcomes in many cases.

Advantages include:

    • Better security. Cloud services like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Azure offer state-of-the-art security features like end-to-end encryption.
  • Mobility and flexibility. Cloud migration sets you up to quickly expand your business now or in the future, or even make adjustments on the fly.
  • Faster speeds. On the other hand, legacy systems get expensive and don’t always guarantee incredible speeds. 
  • Improved collaboration. Using one central operating system keeps staff in one place. There might be a learning curve, but it ultimately streamlines communication.

However, as with any business decision, there are some challenges to cloud migration as well.

What are the challenges of application migration?

Challenges you might face when migrating to the cloud include:

  • Workflow delays/disruptions of specific applications: Some applications are essential to your bottom line. Having them offline for even a few days could lead to workflow problems.
  • Determining when to migrate (and how to minimize impact to your business): Because some things have to pause while you undergo an application migration, knowing when to make the move can be challenging, especially for industries that don’t have an “off” season.
  • Training and educating: The learning curve (and, in some cases, the additional financial investment needed to train staff) can be significant.
  • Technical difficulties/delays: Even the best-laid plans go awry. If your migration gets delayed, it could affect your work.
  • Knowing which type of application migration is best: Lift and shift, refactoring, and re-platforming are all popular ways to migrate to the cloud. 


The question is: which type of application migration is right for you?

Lift and Shift, Refactor, or Re-platform?

Here’s information about the three types of application migrations you might choose for your cloud migration, along with the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Lift and Shift

Lift and shift (you’ll sometimes see it called ‘rehosting’) is a popular migration approach due to its simplicity. 

The name kind of says it all: you lift everything you’ve got in-house and migrate it to the cloud without manipulating code.

Today, migration services like AWS and Azure work tirelessly to make this a smooth and viable option for many companies. 

Benefits and Drawbacks

Simplicity and cost-effectiveness are the significant benefits of a lift and shift migration. You’re also usually up and running quickly, so there isn’t much, if any, downtime.

The main drawback, of course, is that technical difficulties are always possible. There are risks that the migration will fail or ongoing problems will ensue, which could affect your business.

And because you’re essentially dragging-and-dropping, you don’t always gain access to new features. You’re just putting an already-existing architecture on the cloud.

Newer companies often benefit from lift and shift the most, as they have the least amount to risk on existing systems if things don’t go well.


Refactoring migration is more about making changes to existing applications so they can work on the cloud. 

It is in many ways the opposite of lift-and-shift. When you refactor, new code is written for applications to ensure it will work with your new cloud-based server.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Refactoring ensures that the job gets done correctly. If the job has to be done right or you have a low-risk tolerance, it’s probably the best option.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is you’ll pay for it. Refactoring is the most expensive and time-consuming option for cloud migrations. 

However, it could save more in the long run if you factor in potential losses you’d accrue if you chose a different route and had migration difficulties.

Refactor migrations can also lock you into the cloud company you’re moving to. So doing your research to find a company you want to work with long-term is essential.


Re-platforming sort of bridges the gap between lift and shift and a refactor migration, which is why some call it the “lift-tinker-and-shift” option.

Code is not modified as excessively as when you refactor, but some changes must take place to suit the new cloud infrastructure. 

Benefits and Drawbacks

New features are available when you re-platform, which sets you up to scale in the future if you decide to.

This in-between option is suitable for companies who know they aren’t ready to scale fully. It gets you on the cloud but doesn’t put all your eggs in one basket if there are delays, or things don’t go as planned.

If you have a moderate risk tolerance or a mid-sized budget, this can be an attractive option.

What is the best approach to application migration?

Ultimately, the best application migration will depend on the type of business you run and what your needs will be going forward.

Ask yourself questions like: What stage is your business at? How much capital do you have to invest? And what type of risks am I willing to take?

In the end, deciding to migrate to the cloud opens is exciting, but the move requires intentional decision-making. Doing thorough research will help you select the best option.

Want to learn more about application migration or determine the best option for your business? Get in touch today, and we’ll help you get started.

Learn how Zivaro’s managed SIEM solutions can help your business stay protected

learn more

Subscribe to updates

learn more

Want to learn more?