What Is Lift and Shift?

Lift and shift is an approach to migration that can help companies quickly migrate without high costs.

Table of Contents:

When examining ways to migrate on-premises computing resources, businesses will encounter several prospective migration solutions. While each of these approaches has its share of benefits and drawbacks, one particularly appealing method that’s gaining traction as of late is known as lift and shift. 

Lift and shift offers some distinct advantages to some more commonly used approaches. Specifically, it can streamline edge-to-cloud workflows.  

Before undertaking a large-scale migration, it’s important to weigh your options and consider all avenues. Doing so will allow you to select the optimal approach based on the unique needs and pain points of your organization. 

What Does Lift and Shift Mean? 

Lift and shift is the process of making an exact copy of a piece of data and directly transferring that copy to a new IT infrastructure.  

Commonly referred to as rehosting, lift and shift is one of several migration models. With the rise of cloud computing, lift and shift is commonly used for application modernization or moving data from on-premises storage to a multicloud environment. 

How Does Lift and Shift Work? 

When creating a copy of your tech stack, this will include the operating system in addition to data and applications. Once the copy is created, it will be lifted off of your current servers and shifted over to the new environment. 

During this process, you won’t have to significantly alter code associated with the various components of your stack. Therefore, the process of lifting and shifting assets is straightforward, cost effective, and quick.  

While lift and shift is typically used to migrate on-premises assets to a private, public, hybrid, or multicloud computing environment, it can also be used to migrate between two cloud environments. 


Benefits of Lift and Shift 

Lift-and-shift migrations give organizations the opportunity to shed the limitations associated with on-premises networks in favor of cloud-based alternatives. 

Cost Effectiveness 

Migrating applications, operating systems, data stores, and the technology workload to a new environment is an incredibly labor-intensive process. 

The longer a migration takes, the more resources a company needs to use in order to complete the project. This means added costs. This rule holds true whether the migration is being performed with in-house IT personnel or with the assistance of a third-party provider. 

During a standard migration, there are alterations to the architecture and code of all applications. This work compounds the already high cost of migration. This also leads to service disruptions. If the migration team encounters any unforeseen issues, these disruptions may be prolonged and severe. 

Lift and shift circumvents these concerns by eliminating the need for service disruptions.  

The migration team can shift the copy of the enterprise’s workload to the new environment and then transition to that network once the project is complete. Lift and shift reduces the need to modify code or architecture, which further increases this approach’s cost effectiveness. 


By transitioning away from on-premises resources via the lift and shift method, businesses can drastically increase the scalability of their computing power. They can tap into the additional resources available through the cloud as their organization’s computing needs grow. 

In addition, the scalability of cloud environments can optimize the return on investment of IT applications. Your applications can access additional resources during peak usage hours and scale back at other times.  

This setup can lead to additional cost savings because you will only use precisely the amount of resources that you need. 

The scalability of cloud environments will also lend itself to future expansion efforts. As your organization evolves, you will no longer have to invest in expensive on-premises storage solutions. Instead, you can modify your computing capacity by leveraging the standard pay-per-use cloud storage model. 

Enhanced Security 

Cybersecurity is a prime concern for businesses across all industries. The consequences of a successful cyberattack are severe and far-reaching. Businesses that fall victim to a cyberattack may lose tens of thousands of dollars in revenue and experience permanent damage to their brand reputation. 

By migrating away from on-premises network solutions to cloud-based environments via the lift and shift approach, organizations can significantly bolster overall cybersecurity.  

Once-vulnerable legacy software can be made more secure using multifactor authentication and other leading-edge cloud-based cybersecurity measures. Ultimately, this will help organizations better protect business continuity and reduce their risk of being victimized by cybercriminals. 

Reduced On-Premises Cost 

Maintaining on-premises computing resources is an extremely costly undertaking. Businesses that rely on on-premises solutions must purchase servers, storage space, cooling equipment, and other hardware.  

Any time the business needs to expand its computing capabilities, it will need to make additional investments in these costly pieces of equipment. The costs of this investment are exacerbated by the need to hire professionals to install said equipment. 

Making the transition to cloud-based computing environments via the lift and shift migration strategy allows an organization to drastically reduce its on-premises expenses.  

While the business will still need to invest in computers and similar equipment, it will no longer have to purchase servers and other costly hardware. This approach will free up capital to invest in other initiatives and can pave the way for future growth. 

Lift and Shift vs. Other Migration Methods 

The lift-and-shift migration method can allow businesses to experience the benefits of cloud-based computing resources. It can also minimize the cost and labor needed to complete this transition. However, there are two other migration methods to consider when you're planning this transition. These alternatives include: 

PaaS Migration 

During a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) migration, applications are moved from the current platform to a new cloud-based computing environment. The service provider managing the platform will use their preferred technology stack, which may or may not function well with the existing architecture of the application. 

PaaS migrations require the team to make more significant revisions to an application than they would if using the lift and shift method. The team may need to make moderate revisions so that the application can more effectively interact with the PaaS stack.  

In some instances, the migration team will have to completely retool the app’s entire architecture using the PaaS provider's tools. 

The obvious drawback of PaaS migrations is that they require a much larger initial investment of time, labor, and funds. However, applications will be able to fully leverage the capabilities of the cloud computing environment.  

This upside means that organizations can recoup their investment in the long run, especially if their existing applications are particularly antiquated. 

SaaS Migration 

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) migrations are a good option when organizations are prepared to replace their existing on-premises solutions with the SaaS provider’s app.  

SaaS applications are cloud-based solutions that can be implemented rapidly. SaaS migrations allow the organization to take advantage of the provider’s tech stack without engaging in labor-intensive app redesigns. 

Put simply, SaaS migrations serve as the middle ground between the lift-and-shift approach and PaaS migrations. The primary downside of SaaS migrations is that the company is at the mercy of the provider. If they need new customization options or features, the company will have to wait for the provider to implement them. 

When Is Lift and Shift the Best Option? 

A lift-and-shift migration is ideal for organizations that want to expedite the transition from on-premises computing resources to a cloud environment. Lift-and-shift migrations can be accomplished rapidly and are far less labor intensive. Additionally, the lift-and-shift method involves fewer upfront costs. 

However, one long-term drawback of lift and shift is that the complexity and cost of moving data on a large scale will eventually diminish some of the value of this approach. 

Organizations can offset these barriers to using the lift-and-shift method by leveraging a mass storage edge-to-cloud platform such as Seagate Lyve Cloud. Lyve Cloud was specifically designed to allow enterprises to capitalize on the benefits of hybrid multicloud performance while also helping them overcome data storage problems. 

If your organization is planning a migration and is considering using the lift-and-shift method, Seagate Lyve Cloud can provide critical storage resources and cloud computing capabilities in a frictionless environment.