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The 7Rs: Cloud Migration Strategies - which are right for me?

There are seven commonly used strategies for migrating applications to the Cloud. There will be a ‘right’ strategy for each application, and it’s possible you’ll use many, or even all of them, considering your whole IT portfolio. This insights piece should help you work out the best strategy in each case.

Be clear on your Business Drivers

Before you start assessing each application in turn, you need to be very clear on your Business Drivers. These will be a combination of achieving Business Goals such as an ability to innovate faster, a leaner operational model to be more competitive, or an IT that better supports the business strategy; and Financial Goals such as cost avoidance (dodging a hardware refresh), and future operational cost savings. If you haven’t already, have a look at the Six Perspectives on Planning for Cloud Migration which covers how the Cloud Adoption Framework helps you to create an action plan tailored to your organisation’s needs.

Be clear on your Constraints

Do you have a burning platform whose applications need to be prioritised?

Are your people, their knowledge, capabilities and access ready for a move to the Cloud?

Are there compliance requirements that need to be baked into your future environment?

Conduct a detailed Application Discovery

An understanding across all the applications in your portfolio is an important step for determining individual migration strategies, the subsequent migration plan and business case. Here are the seven most commonly used strategies.


Also known as: “Lift and shift

In this case, the application is shifted from a dedicated IT environment into a shared one. A move which surprisingly, can save as much as 30% on operational costs. The re-hosting can be automated with tools, or performed manually, but either way it’s low risk with a medium return.

It also makes future refactoring easier as the application, its data and access is already Cloud-based.


Also known as: “Lift, tinker and shift” or “Lift and reshape

With a little analysis, many applications can be easily modified to leverage Cloud native services, and/or, open source services. For example, you can save time managing your database by using Amazon Relational Database Service; or you can save on licencing costs, by using open source software such as Linux or Apache Tomcat. This can lead to functional benefits and/or cost savings.

Refactor / Re-architect

Also known as: “Decouple and Rewrite for Cloud

This option entails the biggest investment - but yields the best returns. It is often driven by a strong business need for new features, performance or ability to scale.

Rearchitecting a tired application to take advantage of Cloud-native features to support the achievement of business goals is one of the best reasons to migrate to the Cloud in the first place.

Re-purchase / Replace

Also known as: “Shop and Drop” (whether that's Saas or COTS software)

In the same way that moving from dedicated, owned IT infrastructure to a shared platform changes your IT finance model from a Total Cost of Ownership model to the consumption-based cost model of Cloud services; the move to Software as a Service changes software from an investment to an expense item. Likewise buying commercial off the shelf (COTS) software is usually more cost effective than building and maintaining your own - particularly if you don’t have exacting requirements.


If your applications are already reside on VMware, simply migrate into the cloud for ease of management and the cost savings of scale.


Often a metaphor for: “Re-visit

Some applications will initially fall into the too hard basket. Rather than have one application that holds you back from reaping benefits of migrating to the Cloud, accept the fact that it will need to stay where it is for now and can be revisited when you have much more experience with the Cloud.


After completing the discovery of the entire IT environment, it is often found that the last 10-20% of an enterprise portfolio is redundant, has been replaced by other software or is no longer used. It needs to be decommissioned to boost the savings in the business case from running and maintaining it.

Transformation to Cloud is a Journey

Like any journey, it starts with the first step and is completed in a series of further steps. It is as important to choose the right strategy for each application step, as it is to get the steps in the right (operationally optimal and risk mitigated) order.

PolarSeven are an AWS Advanced Consulting Public Sector Partner , registered and advanced supplier with SCM0020 certification and SOC Compliance, PolarSeven is uniquely placed to help public sector organisations assess their Cloud readiness and support them on their Public Cloud journey.

Contact us if you would like to discuss Application Discovery, or any other element of planning your migration to the Cloud.

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