The 7 Most Common Cloud Migration Strategies

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When preparing to make the shift from an on-premises system to the cloud, it is vital to develop a migration strategy. This article will highlight the 7 most common cloud migration strategies – from rehosting to retaining. With these strategies defined, you’ll be able to create a roadmap to plan and execute your migration processes in the most efficient way possible.

What does cloud migration mean?

Cloud migration is the process of moving data, applications, and IT workloads from one location to a public cloud. This can be done from a company’s own on-site servers or from one cloud provider to another (known as cloud-to-cloud migration, or C2C). The reverse action, moving back from a cloud provider to on-premises servers, is also considered a cloud migration, and is commonly known as cloud repatriation or cloud exit.

Why is cloud migration important

Making the shift from on-premises applications to a public cloud service essentially means releasing space from a company’s own servers. This shift increases accessibility, improves security and performance, and cuts down on costs. Migrating to the cloud is a great way to move into an operational expenditure model. With cloud services in place, you only have to pay for the services you use instead of maintaining costly on-site servers. There are many other benefits of a cloud migration:

Agility and flexibility of services

Clouds provide organisations with the possibility to add or remove services and resources on demand and in a timely manner. This makes businesses more adaptable to the market’s everchanging needs and challenges, and it helps them save time and money that otherwise would have been spent in developing the same solutions on their own.


The flexibility offered by cloud services allows for the prompt scaling of workloads. Without the need to purchase and deploy physical servers or software licenses, you’re able to expand your business operations much more easily.

Constant innovation

Clouds open up the possibilities for businesses looking to test new software, applications, and functions without risking their capital. This allows for a constant evolution of an organisation, where a trial-and-error approach to change is manageable. At the same time, you can benefit from updates that providers conduct on your behalf. To keep their services up to the standards of the latest and most sophisticated global digital transformations and needs, providers regularly modify their services. This also means that compliance requirements (essential for government sectors and industries such as finance and healthcare) are always met.

Optimised cost

While cloud services are not always less costly than on-site data centres, they are certainly more cost effective. Since a cloud provider usually provides customer and IT service as well as software licenses and updates, an organisation can reduce IT operations and reserve resources. Are In addition to this, migrating to the cloud doesn’t require a significant upfront payment. It offers the possibility to add or remove services to adapt to a business’s budget.

Improved performance

Applications and websites hosted in a single data centre can suffer performance limitations when accessed globally. Conversely, public clouds use data centres all around the world. By hosting their workloads closer to their end-users, businesses can reduce network latency, achieving better performance whilst complying with the regulatory requirements of those regions.

Accessible analytics

Cloud migration is a good solution for organisations that find themselves using several unrelated and unconnected tools to store and use their data, manage operations, and keep track of stock and manufacturing processes. Migrating all existing apps to the cloud embeds keeps them centralised, which makes conducting analysis easier and more accessible.

Most common cloud migration strategies

When it comes to cloud migration, it’s vital for companies to design a cloud migration strategy in order to save themselves time, money, and headaches along the way. Migrating to a cloud server is a complex and sometimes challenging process that requires planning. It’s important to note that not all workloads might be apt for the cloud, which is why assessment is the first step in a cloud migration strategy. It is only by analysing the workload requirements and your company’s goals that you will be able to design a good cloud migration strategy, which starts with knowing the different types of cloud migration.

Types of cloud migration

Full data centre exit

Organisations moving all applications, services, and databases to a public cloud from one or more data centres need a full data centre exit migration.

Cloud-to-cloud migration (C2C)

Organisations that already work with a cloud provider might want to migrate to a different host when the first provider’s solutions no longer suit them.

Migrating specific applications, datasets or workloads

A full data centre exit might not be for all businesses. Some may only need to migrate some of their software, databases, or workloads to a cloud, in a strategy that doesn’t involve as lengthy a planning, testing and developing period as a full data migration.

Cloud migration strategies

The most common cloud migration strategies are called the 7Rs of cloud migration. Designed to help organisations determine the best course of action when undertaking a cloud migration, the 7Rs encompass a range of options from small, specific migrations to complete restructurings of software and hardware infrastructure.

Rehost: lift and shift

A rehosting cloud migration strategy involves simply “lifting” an exact copy of a company’s applications, workloads, and server operating systems. These are then “shifted” into the cloud hosting, without making extensive changes to their configuration. This is best for conservative organisations or those with predictable usage patterns. It is the most straightforward migration strategy, which is why it is regarded as the first step for a larger rehosting project. However, its simple approach to redeploying digital resources in the cloud might mean the user won’t benefit from some of the cloud’s best tools and capabilities.

Replatform: lift and optimise

The next step in a rehosting strategy would be to lift, shift, and optimise. This is known as a replatform strategy, where the core architecture and source code of a system or application remains unchanged whilst still being optimised to modernise workloads and enable some of the cloud’s most useful functions. This means teams can keep working in an environment they know and take advantage of the cloud’s tools with little to no training, without the business suffering major adaptability drawbacks.


Refactoring is a cloud migration strategy that aims to modernise and revamp existing applications to integrate new and advanced capabilities that are not supported, such as autoscaling, machine learning, AI capabilities, or serverless computing. It involves rearchitecting some of an application’s code to adapt it to the new environment or, in some cases, rebuilding it completely from scratch. This makes it one of the most expensive options, but also one of the most adaptable to future industry changes.


Mostly leveraged for workloads requiring enhanced application performance, a repurchase cloud migration strategy involves the transition from a purchased on-premises system to a third-party, cloud-hosted Software-as-a-Service. This option simplifies and speeds up the migration process, and it allows the full utilisation of the cloud’s capabilities. It is also a very cost-effective option. However, it is less customisable than other cloud migration strategies.


With a relocate migration strategy, a company can transfer a collection of servers or software from an on-premises platform to the cloud version of that platform. This is the latest addition to the 7Rs of cloud migration strategies, and it is a fairly easy and quick migration process, although it is currently only supported by a handful of technologies. However, those able to use this approach will see that the migration barely affects the existing tools, processes, databases, etc., even if they are provided by a third party.


Retiring becomes essential once you have assessed what applications are worth shifting to the cloud and which ones are no longer useful. Eliminating inefficient or outdated applications is the first step towards modernisation, and it could even give your business a boost in other areas.

Retain (revisit)

Even when it seems that everyone is making the move to a cloud-based server, this might not be the right option for some organisations. In these cases, maintaining an application in its original framework is the right thing to do, as there may not be any immediate value in migrating to the cloud. Retaining the software as it is right now and planning to revisit cloud computing in the future is as good a strategy as any other.

Steps in the cloud migration process

The cloud migration process (also called cloud transformation process) consists of five main phases. However, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to cloud migration. The exact roadmap for migration will depend on the size, complexity and structure of one IT environment. Nevertheless, these five phases provide a holistic understanding of the process, and they aim to minimise disruptions and lowering risks.


The first step towards cloud migration is defining the objectives for cloud migration, as well as assessing IT infrastructures in order to understand what applications are cloud eligible and how they should be migrated. Identifying any gaps in skills or technologies that could hinder a smooth migration process is key at this point. You should also analyse not only your needs, but the different options available for your business, taking into account costs, operating systems, and specific performance and networking requirements.


After assessing your business objectives, needs and, cloud readiness, it’s time to craft a detailed migration plan. This will act as a roadmap throughout the process, ensuring that nothing is left to last-minute decisions and changes. This roadmap should include details about:

• which workloads will be migrated, how and in what order?

• what cloud architecture would suit better the organisation’s needs

• what modifications, if necessary, should be applied to existing applications

• whether there are compliance requirements to address before migrating to the cloud


The migration phase can involve different types of cloud migration strategies. The migration can be undertaken by your own IT staff or the cloud provider’s team, depending on your needs and their services. In any case, the whole process must be carefully monitored so that issues can be addressed as and when they occur.


Once the migration has been successfully completed, so begins the operate phase, where organisations start managing their day-to-day workloads in the cloud. During this phase, organisations can assess their performance within the cloud and make adjustments if needed.


Now you need to make sure they are taking full advantage of the cloud’s features and services. To improve the performance of their cloud framework, a team can look into implementing new functions in their plan, refining operations, and upgrading apps, among other options, in this ongoing last phase of the migration.

Cloud migration services: what to look for in a provider

Cloud computing might still look like a new technology to some, but the reality is that it is here to stay. As it continues to develop and evolve, migrating to a cloud-based solution has become one of the key strategies for successful and resilient businesses today. However, cloud migration is a process not to be taken lightly. It requires a deep analysis of an organisation’s current goals and challenges to map the steps towards an efficient, seamless transition. Finding the ideal cloud partner can be difficult, and the search can take time and investment you could be spending on other areas of your company. This is where YourShortlist can help you. We offer expert, free of charge advice for business owners to help them find the right cloud service for their needs. By matching you with a FREE shortlist of cloud providers from our database of trusted Partners, our team of consultants can help you make the shift to the cloud in an easier, cost-effective, and timely way. Get in touch with us today and receive your free, bespoke shortlist of cloud computing Partners.