Strategies For Migrating Applications To The Cloud

05 May 2020

By Mohammed Abubakar


This post outlines 5 different migration strategies enterprises can implement that I hope will help executives who are considering migrating applications to the cloud. These strategies combines what we (AltoStack) know about technology migrations and some of our experience helping organisations migrate their IT portfolios to the Cloud.

Once an organisation has identified a business case or compelling event that will drive their migration to the cloud, they typically begin to contemplate how to migrate their IT portfolio; What’s in the current environment, what are the interdependencies, what should be migrated first, and how will it be migrated?

Using this knowledge, organisations can outline a plan on how they’ll approach migrating each of the applications in their portfolio and in what order. I suggest starting with something on the low-complexity end of the spectrum for the obvious reason that it will be easier to complete - which will give you some immediate positive reinforcement or “quick wins” as you learn.

The 5 most common application migration strategies we see are:


This is simply the “lift-and-shift” approach where the organisation is looking to scale its migration quickly to meet a business case. Even without implementing any cloud related optimisations, an organisation can save roughly 30 percent of its IT costs by rehosting. Once the applications are in the cloud optimising/re-architecting are easier because your organisation will have developed better skills to do so and the migration part (moving application, data, and traffic to the cloud) has already been done.


Very similar to the Rehosting strategy but with few cloud optimisations in order to achieve some tangible benefit, but you aren’t otherwise changing the core architecture of the application. For example instead of migrating the on-prem database you move to a database-as-a-service platform provided in the target cloud platform.


This involves taking a step back and re-imagining how the application is architected and developed, typically using cloud-native features and is driven by a strong business need to add features, scale, or performance that would otherwise be difficult to achieve in the application’s existing environment. This pattern tends to be the most expensive, but, if you have a good product-market fit, it can also be the most beneficial.


When organisations inspect their configuration management databases (CMDBs), institutional knowledge, and/or deploy tools to deeply understand what’s in their environment you might ask each functional area who owns each application. If any of the identified application is no longer useful they can simply be turned off. These savings can boost the business case, direct your team’s scarce attention to the things that people use, and lessen the surface area you have to secure.


You might find applications that you aren’t ready to prioritize or that was recently upgraded, or are otherwise not inclined to migrate. You should only migrate what makes sense for the business and further strengthens the business case; and, as the weight of your portfolio changes from on-premises to the cloud, you’ll probably have fewer reasons to retain.


These strategies - while based on experience - are intended to provide some guiding principles to help you approach your migration and not meant to prescribe hard-and-fast rules. Every organisation has its own unique blend of constraints, budget issues, politics, culture, and market pressures that will guide its decision-making process along the way.

For more information on how our Cloud Migration practice can help your Cloud Transformation initiatives, click here. If you would like AltoStack to accelerate your migration to the cloud while minimising disruption to your business please contact us here.

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