Lift and Shift


Lift and Shift is a strategy in cloud migration where an organization moves its existing applications and infrastructure to the cloud with minimal or no changes. This approach helps save time and resources compared to rearchitecting or redesigning the entire system. However, it may not fully utilize the benefits and capabilities of the cloud platform.

Key Takeaways

  1. Lift and Shift refers to the process of migrating an existing application or infrastructure from its current environment (often on-premises) to cloud infrastructure, without making major modifications to its architecture or code.
  2. This strategy enables organizations to benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and cost efficiency of cloud computing while minimizing the time and resources required for application re-architecture.
  3. Although Lift and Shift provides a quick and straightforward method for cloud migration, it may not fully leverage the capabilities and advantages of cloud-native services, which could limit the overall cloud benefits and potential performance gains.


The technology term “Lift and Shift” is important because it refers to a strategy commonly used during the cloud migration process, wherein applications or workloads are moved from an on-premises infrastructure to a cloud environment with minimal or no modifications.

This approach enables organizations to quickly leverage the benefits of cloud computing, such as scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, while minimizing risks, downtime, and complexity often associated with extensive changes to applications.

Furthermore, Lift and Shift can serve as an initial step in cloud adoption, allowing organizations to migrate their existing systems before undertaking more significant digital transformations, optimizations or modernizations.


Lift and Shift is a widely adopted strategy in the IT industry for migrating applications and workloads from one environment to another, often from on-premises data centers to the cloud. The purpose behind this approach is to enable organizations to leverage the potential benefits of cloud computing, such as increased flexibility, scalability, and cost-efficiency, without having to invest a significant amount of time and resources in redesigning or re-architecting their existing applications.

By moving their digital assets to the cloud, businesses can make the most of the current infrastructure while optimizing their operations to improve overall performance and reduce the total cost of ownership. Lift and Shift is used in a variety of scenarios, including data center consolidations, disaster recovery, and legacy modernization.

It is particularly suited for organizations that need to swiftly migrate a large number of applications or when there’s limited availability of resources for application modernization. The approach enables businesses to keep their applications running with minimal disruption, as they’re abstracted from the underlying infrastructure.

Moreover, Lift and Shift provides a foundation for businesses to incrementally adopt cloud-native services and technologies. Once the applications are migrated to the cloud, organizations can gradually optimize, refactor or re-architect them to better utilize cloud capabilities and evolve towards a more efficient and cost-effective infrastructure.

Examples of Lift and Shift

Lift and Shift is a term used mainly in cloud computing, referring to the process of migrating existing applications or workloads from an on-premises environment to a cloud environment with minimal modification. Here are three real-world examples of Lift and Shift:

Migrating an e-commerce website: A business that operates an e-commerce website on their own local servers might decide to utilize the benefits of cloud computing to improve scalability, security, and reduce costs. In this case, they could use the Lift and Shift strategy to relocate their entire application, database, and infrastructure to a cloud provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Moving Enterprise Applications to the Cloud: A large organization using a traditional on-premises data center to host their internal applications (such as HR, finance, and project management tools) might decide to switch to a cloud infrastructure. By applying a Lift and Shift approach, they can migrate each application, along with its underlying data and configurations, to the cloud platform, maintaining the same structure while benefiting from reduced maintenance overhead and improved operational efficiencies.

Transitioning a Legacy System: A company running an older, legacy system with limited resources may choose to adopt a hybrid cloud approach in order to meet increasing demands. In this scenario, they could use Lift and Shift to transfer their legacy system to a cloud environment, without the need for redesigning their application or infrastructure. This would enable the company to leverage the cloud’s flexibility and scalability while still maintaining their existing processes and functionality.

FAQ: Lift and Shift

1. What is Lift and Shift?

Lift and Shift is a term used in IT to describe the process of migrating applications and workloads from one infrastructure to another, with minimal changes in the system. It’s often used when organizations transition from on-premises data centers to cloud platforms, aiming to maintain the same functionality.

2. How does Lift and Shift differ from other migration strategies?

Lift and Shift focuses on moving applications without modifying their architecture or design, thus reducing the complexity and risk of migration. Other strategies, such as Refactor, Revise, or Rebuild, involve making significant changes to the application code, dependencies, or underlying infrastructure, which may require additional time and resources.

3. What are the benefits of a Lift and Shift migration?

A Lift and Shift migration offers several benefits, including speed of migration, reduced downtime, and minimal changes to application architecture. This approach allows organizations to quickly take advantage of the cloud’s scalability, flexibility, and cost-saving features without extensive redevelopment efforts.

4. What are the potential drawbacks of a Lift and Shift migration?

While Lift and Shift simplifies the migration process, it may not fully optimize the application to harness the full benefits of the cloud. Some applications may require rearchitecting or refactoring to fully utilize cloud-native features like auto-scaling, serverless computing, and microservices.

5. How do I determine if Lift and Shift is the right migration strategy for my application?

To determine if Lift and Shift is the best strategy for your application, you’ll need to evaluate factors like application architecture, desired migration speed, your organization’s technical expertise, and cost considerations. If your application can benefit from a quick cloud migration with minimal changes, Lift and Shift may be the right choice. However, if your application would better respond to cloud-native optimizations, you may want to consider other migration strategies.

Related Technology Terms

  • Cloud Migration
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Application Compatibility
  • On-Premises to Cloud Transition
  • Rehosting

Sources for More Information


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