Beyond “Lift-and-Shift”: Application Modernization with Microsoft Azure

Developer Support

App Dev Manager Stephen Abdo spotlights the cost saving benefits of “lift-and-shift” migrations vs. app modernization in the cloud.

Migrating virtual machines, databases, and applications to Azure can have many advantages including global scalability, increased reliability, stronger security, and cost savings. These advantages can simply be gained by implementing a “lift-and-shift” migration. Allscripts, for example, lifted and shifted to Microsoft Azure dozens of applications running on 1,000 VMs in just three weeks. The “lift-and-shift” approach with Azure IaaS, however, can only deliver on small measure of the promise of agility and innovation in the Cloud when compared to modernized application (i.e., Cloud-optimized).  Modernizing application with Azure PaaS, on the other hand, can deliver on the promise of agility and innovation to a greater extent. It reduces the time required to manage the application and the time required to deploy a new release while optimizing the speed to market.


Clearly, not all applications are suited for the cloud.  Legacy applications (e.g., AS400) will have to remain on premises.  Other application can be moved to SaaS model. Others may even be retired. For application suited for the cloud, modernizing these application by refactoring, rearchitecting or rebuilding them is a complex task that requires developers with the right skills, modern processes (e.g., DevOps ) and strong capabilities in key areas such networking, identity, and security. Failing to assess the gaps in staff readiness, proper processes, and right capabilities can leave the development team frustrated and negatively impact delivery timelines.


The challenges organizations face with Cloud migrations include a lack of resources and expertise, inadequate security preparedness, and failing to manage cloud spend, as well as compliance and governance. While every migration is unique, below are key area to pay close attention while migrating your application to Azure:

  • Secure and manage infrastructure by attaching Azure management and security to every migrated workload (e.g., backup, monitoring, security assessment, cost management)
  • Check for Outdated OS versions before beginning your migration.  Not all OS versions are compatible for the cloud.
  • Make the right-sizing of Cloud components part of a continual review of your application.
  • Keep workloads secure, well-managed, & optimized after the move.
  • Create an ecosystems where you connect the development team internally, with us at Microsoft and with partners.


While the “lift-and-shift” approach can provide quick wins for operational efficiency, and lower risk and effort, modernizing applications through refactoring, rearchitecting and rebuilding can provide agility, speed to market and the ability to innovate.


Resources: The Azure Migration Center has tools, guidance, and expert assistance Find learning resource, discover Azure learning paths and leverage ecosystem expertise


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