September 11, 2023
 min read

Lift and Shift: What It Is and How to Do It

Tips on moving workloads or applications to the cloud

Lift and shift is the process of moving workloads or applications from on-premises systems to the cloud. It can be seen as a way to "lift" current infrastructure into the cloud, or it can be seen as a "shift" of applications and data to the cloud. In this blog post, you'll learn what the lift and shift migration strategy is. Next, we'll look into the pros and cons of this migration strategy and when it's appropriate to use it. Finally, we'll discuss some best practices for successfully transitioning to the cloud and avoiding pitfalls while migrating your applications using the lift and shift approach.

If you're a technical leader or manager at a company looking to migrate to cloud computing, then a developer experience platform like Configure8 can help simplify that process. You can get answers to critical questions about how cost, health, performance, and staffing are related to your applications, services, and cloud resources. Visit this website for more information about this powerful universal catalog and insights tool.

What Is Lift and Shift?

At its core, lift and shift is a migration strategy that involves moving an existing application to the cloud without changing its original architecture or design. Organizations commonly use it to quickly and easily take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing and to save time and resources and avoid rebuilding their applications from scratch.

However, moving existing applications to the cloud using this approach may only partially take advantage of cloud architecture and platforms. It would help if you were careful with your cloud infrastructure design. Otherwise, it may be difficult to maintain performance and reliability as the number of users or data increases. In addition, if you choose a cloud provider that's not well suited to your needs or lacks adequate security features, you may be vulnerable to data breaches or security threats.

Pros of Lift and Shift

Lifting and shifting has many benefits, including faster time to market, lower costs, and greater flexibility. It can be a quick and relatively low-cost way to move an application to the cloud. It also allows organizations to quickly reap the benefits of cloud computing, such as scalability, flexibility, and cost savings. Let's now discuss each of them in detail.

Cost Effectiveness

One of the most important reasons for doing a lift and shift is to save money. The cost savings can be significant, especially when moving workloads off expensive on-premises hardware or software licenses. Cloud providers typically charge only for the resources used, which can lead to significant cost savings compared to traditional architecture.


Cloud platforms and infrastructure offer much greater scalability than traditional hosting environments, allowing you to quickly scale your resources up or down as needed. The cloud can easily accommodate you if you need to add computing power, storage space, or bandwidth.


You have more options when choosing resources, platforms, and tools. The cloud allows you to be more agile when responding to changing market conditions and requirements, giving you greater flexibility in running your business.

Cons of Lift and Shift

While there are many advantages to lift and shift migration, this approach also has some potential drawbacks and risks. Let's now discuss each of them.


If your existing applications and services are complex and interconnected, moving them to the cloud using the lift and shift migration may require additional work, such as rearchitecting or refactoring. It can add further complexity.


Moving existing applications and services to the cloud might take more time and planning, depending on your needs, than building a new application from scratch. You will also need to carefully consider different infrastructures, tools, and platforms for your applications.

Resource Intensive

In some cases, lifting and shifting may require significant resources to migrate workloads. It can increase costs and make a lift and shift migration more challenging. For example, you may need additional hardware or software licenses.

Training Needs

You may need additional technical expertise or tools to lift and shift your applications. You should provide additional training and support to existing employees when migrating. Upskilling existing employees is a time-consuming process that takes investment and planning.

When to Lift and Shift

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when to lift and shift as this will depend on your organization's unique needs and goals. As we already mentioned, lift and shift may only sometimes make sense. For example, suppose your organization has a complex web of dependencies between applications, services, and resources. In that case, moving all these systems may be challenging using the lift and shift method alone. However, some common situations where lift and shift may be a good option include the following:

  • When you need to quickly ramp up cloud infrastructure without building new applications from scratch
  • When you have existing applications that can be scaled up or down quickly as your needs change

When considering lift and shift for your organization, you should evaluate the risks and benefits involved. Some key considerations include the following:

  • The extent to which your organization is already dependent on existing applications and systems or if its needs are highly variable over time
  • Whether your organization has the time, resources, and expertise needed to migrate existing applications and services to the cloud successfully
  • The specific benefits and tradeoffs of lift and shift compared to other migration strategies, such as refactoring or building new applications from scratch

Ultimately, whether or not lift and shift is the right migration strategy for your organization will depend on several factors specific to your needs and goals.

Best Practices for Lift and Shift

If you're considering lift and shift as a migration strategy, there are some best practices to keep in mind.

  1. Assess your existing application or service to determine if it's a good candidate for lift and shift. Consider factors like complexity, scalability, and interdependencies between applications.
  2. Identify the resources you'll need to migrate your applications and services successfully. It may include technical expertise or cloud management tools.
  3. Plan to ensure that any necessary training or other support is in place for your employees before migrating to the cloud. For example, clearly communicating the standards the team will need to adhere to moving forward
  4. Explore opportunities to accelerate your journey and derisk its success via tooling. For example, the Scorecards feature of an internal developer portal like configure8 can track your team’s adherence to standards for architecture, security and reliability as they migrate. Self-serve actions inside an internal developer portal can help you make it easier for your developers to directly manage common day 2 operations once in the cloud leveraging golden paths defined by your platform engineering team.
  5. Without automated tracking, it is difficult to identify how much of your existing infrastructure is ready to be migrated to the cloud. When everyone in your team has this knowledge, the process of lifting and shifting your software to the cloud becomes much easier.
  6. Consider other migration strategies, such as refactoring or rearchitecting your applications for optimal cloud performance.
  7. Ensure that the cloud environment has been properly configured with the appropriate security measures, set up automatic backups for data, and use container technology and automation tools when possible to make the migration easier.
  8. Have proper monitoring and testing in place once your lift and shift is complete. It will help you keep an eye on how things are running in the cloud and quickly address any issues that may arise.

By following these best practices, you can ensure that lift and shift is the right fit for your organization and will help you take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing.


Lift and shift is a migration strategy that can help organizations quickly move applications and services to the cloud. While there are some potential drawbacks and risks associated with it, there are also many benefits, including scalability, cost-effectiveness, and more streamlined operations. Essential best practices include assessing your applications and services to determine if they're good candidates, identifying the resources, and planning necessary training or support needs. Lastly, consider an internal developer portal like configure8 to help with the migration process and monitor and test your cloud environment after migration as well as potentially accelerate your move via self-serve actions. With these tips, you can successfully and effectively lift and shift your organization to the cloud.

This post was written by Tarun Telang. Tarun is a software engineering leader with over 16 years of experience in the software industry with some of the world’s most renowned software development firms like Microsoft, Oracle, BlackBerry, and SAP. His areas of expertise include Java, web, mobile, and cloud. He’s also experienced in managing software projects using Agile and Test Driven Development methodologies.

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