Data Center

Guide to lift and shift data center migration | TechTarget

Lift and shift involves moving an application and its associated data, OS and workload to a new environment. It provides a way to move apps to the cloud without redesigning the app to suit the new infrastructure or fundamentally changing the workload.

Data center admins use lift and shift to migrate apps and workloads from on premises to a data center or from the data center to the cloud. Companies use lift and shift to protect their investments in applications, business workflows and data found in their hardware. However, this approach is not always helpful to an organization.

Pros of lift-and-shift migration

Lift and shift, also known as a forklift move, is a cost-effective and minimally disruptive migration strategy. The app is accessible during the migration, which ensures no service interruption. Application experience should remain the same for users.

Migrate an app to a new environment to improve its performance since the app will ideally run on updated, higher-performance hardware and enhanced security options.

Companies can scale their app usage without having to purchase, install and manage additional hardware. This saves on overprovisioning efforts during peak traffic.

Cons of lift-and-shift migration

There are several situations where a lift-and-shift migration might not be the right strategy for a data center or company.

Depending on the industry, the new environment might need specific certifications or security features, such as HIPAA or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance.

The lift-and-shift approach moves apps to a different environment without any change. Legacy applications may suffer from latency or performance issues because they were never meant to run on more updated infrastructure.

Use cases of lift and shift

Lift and shift can help when on-premises or noncloud infrastructure costs increase, but the company is not ready to rearchitect apps or move to new ones. It might be more cost-effective to move the apps to a new environment, like the cloud, until the company is ready to rebuild.

Admins cannot alter or recode third-party vendor apps, such as FedEx, PayPal and Google Drive. The only alternative is to use life and shift to move them as is to the new environment.

Companies that run mission-critical applications as on-premises VMs should lift and shift to cloud VMs that serve similar purposes. Moving backup and recovery resources through this approach enables companies to enjoy the new environment’s scalability.

How to implement a lift-and-shift migration

To make the most of a lift-and-shift migration, data center facility owners and operators should take the following steps to minimize risks and difficulties:

  1. Assess the app and prepare for the move. Consider how much pre-work needs to occur before the move, like updates and patches, and schedule that work. Only choose apps that will be effective after the move and ones that can’t migrate another way.
  2. Assess the application life span. Consider how long the application will continue to be in use. Know an application’s longevity before migrating it.
  3. Identify any data or workload bottlenecks. Know how the data travels before the move. The new environment may result in a new path for data and workloads, leading to API access restrictions.
  4. Verify compliance requirements. Ensure all compliance requirements meet the migration plan and target infrastructure during and after the move.
  5. Create a migration priority list. Ensure mission-critical apps migrate first.
  6. Reduce feature and scope creep. Define a strategy to slowly integrate features the new environment may have and stick to it throughout the migration. Integrating new features all at once can lead to delays and interruptions.

When admins should use a lift-and-shift strategy

A lift-and-shift migration is usually the fastest and most cost-effective migration strategy for data center admins. The data center destination provider has automated migration tools or migration experts that help with the move, which results in limited or no downtime.

A lift-and-shift migration may also be a good strategy for apps with configurations or scripts that aren’t documented or are hard to reverse-engineer. This attracts companies without the resources to handle the additional IT work.

When not to use a lift-and-shift strategy

The lift-and-shift approach isn’t always the best for a data center. This applies to situations where data might need reengineering or refactoring before being used in the new environment.

Facilities that handle data and apps for healthcare or financial services may have additional security and compliance requirements to meet. A new environment or location may not meet the rigorous requirements laid out in the company’s guidelines. Understand what’s required before planning a move.

Legacy apps replaced by newer, more modern versions might not be worth moving, either. The new versions may have additional features that are incompatible with the legacy data or workflow. In that case, consider a different migration approach, like refactoring or consolidation.