Why “lift, shift, and tinker” must not be the final step in a CIOs cloud hyper-scaler strategy

In 2016, AWS popularised the concept of six ‘R’ strategies for migrating applications to the cloud. Then in late 2021, this was further revised to seven in an AWS blog titled “7 Strategies for Migrating Applications to the Cloud, introducing AWS Mainframe Modernization and AWS Migration Hub Refactor Spaces”.

At a recent AWS EMEA business strategy update, Madhavi Reddy (AWS EMEA Migrations and Modernisations Director) discussed her experiences supporting organisations as they migrate and/or modernise compute workloads to AWS. It has been over five years since that first post discussed migration and modernisation strategies. From the session at the event, it was clear that AWS has significantly scaled and evolved how to support customers on there, often challenging, journeys. Like many of their peers, AWS has a programme to support this transition for clients called the Migration Acceleration Program (MAP).

Despite program similarities, it is evident that AWS continues to invest significantly in the MAP to remove barriers that customers may face when migrating through a range of automation and tooling they provide. At the time of writing, twenty-nine services exist, spanning decision and planning support, migration automation and governance, server and database migration, hybrid solutions, data and storage transfer, and third-party solutions. Given the growth nature of AWS, this range of services will likely keep increasing rapidly. Yet, despite the sophistication of the MAP, it was interesting to see at the event that rehosting and re-platforming are still the main focuses of customer migrations by a significant margin, with refactoring, oft described as rearchitecting, of applications still a much smaller proportion of the customer behaviour.

This correlates with what PAC sees in the UK market when we speak with and survey CxOs and their teams. For many organisations, the pandemic further reinforced the need to drive value from the cloud through cost savings, increased operational resilience, and accelerated time-to-value/market. All too often, migrations to cloud hyper-scalers focus on all forms of “lift-and-shift” and the opportunity to “tinker” by changing a business application from one platform provider to another. However, for organisations' the real value is the opportunity to reimagine how technology is used to serve one or more business operating processes. To then step past rehosting and re-platforming by considering the range of services AWS offers that support leveraging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to refactor/rearchitect how a business application provides value to an organisation's needs. CIOs must avoid cloud stagnation by only focusing on the “low hanging fruit” opportunities derived by rehosting and not progressing to refactoring once the migration has occurred. For many modern use cases, migration is only the first step. So, CIOs must look at the cloud as not a binary decision to either migrate or modernise but rather how to gain the cost and operational benefits of migrating today to provide the platform to innovate and modernise rapidly. A CIOs cloud strategy must reflect the value journey of computing resources and business applications post-migration to a cloud hyper-scaler.

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