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The “Six Rs” of Cloud Migration Projects

Author: Sambit Ghosh | 7 min read | March 17, 2022


To increase business agility, improve scalability and cut costs, more and more companies are moving their data and applications to the cloud. However, this observation neglects to mention that the cloud migration journey may look very different for each organization.

When it comes to handling your legacy IT, you essentially have six different options for application modernization. These methods are collectively referred to as the “six Rs.” Depending on your situation, you may choose only one of them for your entire IT environment or you may choose to mix and match these options in a holistic cloud migration strategy.

Below, we’ll define each of the six Rs and discuss how to choose between them during your move to the cloud.

  1. Rehosting

    Rehosting refers to taking applications and servers from their existing on-premises environment and moving them to public cloud infrastructure relatively unchanged. This technique is also known as “lift and shift,” and is very common among businesses that are just starting on their cloud journey.

  2. Replatforming

    In replatforming, businesses go beyond simple rehosting by modifying and optimizing applications for their new cloud environment. For example, businesses that self-hosted their applications while on-premises can take advantage of managed services offerings in the cloud that automatically handle this complexity. This option will likely require long-term monitoring to ensure that applications perform as expected in the cloud.

  3. Refactoring

    Refactoring involves even more time and effort than replatforming by rearchitecting legacy software or services for the cloud. This strategy is expensive and time-consuming, which makes it viable for applications that need a complete overhaul—either to run in the cloud or to take advantage of cloud features such as performance, availability and scalability. One common refactoring technique is to break up a monolithic application into many interconnected microservices.

  4. Repurchasing

    In repurchasing, businesses stop using one product or service and buy another one that runs in the cloud (i.e. a SaaS product). For example, you may be using a legacy ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software or database that isn’t designed for cloud architectures. This strategy is sometimes called “drop and shop,” and is perhaps the least technically complex since you don’t have to migrate the application itself.

  5. Retaining

    Businesses can also choose to retain, i.e. preserve, certain parts of their IT environment on-premises. Companies keep applications and servers on-premises for several reasons. For example, there may be no business case for the migration, the cost of the migration may be too high or the component may even need to stay on-premises due to compliance issues.

  6. Retiring

    Last but not least, retiring involves phasing out the use of applications and services that don’t need to be migrated or preserved on-premises. IT components may be retired if they are redundant or rarely used or possibly consolidated into other components.

The Six Rs of a Cloud Migration Strategy

In our experience, roughly 75 percent of companies will use some combination of rehosting, replatforming and refactoring. Historically, two-thirds of Datavail’s customers have used a simple “lift and shift” rehosting for their cloud migration.

But is “lift and shift” really the best strategy? Below are some reasons why rehosting might not be the best approach:

  • “Lift and shift” migrations require companies to maintain both the cloud and on-premises versions of the software simultaneously, which can be expensive.
  • To save on costs, some businesses try to cut corners during the migration, leading to a poorly optimized cloud environment.
  • “Lift and shift” migrations don’t enable advantages of the cloud such as access to new cloud services, breaking down traditional business silos and leveraging DevOps and automation.

Instead of rehosting, more and more companies are choosing to replatform, refactor or repurchase applications. This reflects a growing understanding that the cloud is not just an on-premises environment located farther away, but has its advantages and concerns that shouldn’t be overlooked.


Rehosting, refactoring, repurchasing or retiring: there’s no shortage of options for how to handle your legacy IT when you move to the cloud. For every application in your on-premises IT ecosystem, you’ll need to decide what role it should play (if any) in your new cloud environment.

At times, it can be challenging to figure out which strategy or strategies are right for you—especially if this is your first cloud migration. In this case, it’s a wise idea to work with a skilled, experienced migration partner who can help guide you down the right path.

Datavail is an IT provider offering both IT managed services and project services, spanning the cloud, on-premises and hybrid environments. We’ve helped build and operate mission-critical systems for hundreds of customers across cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Oracle. Datavail is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, a Microsoft Gold Partner and an Oracle Partner with 17 different specializations.

Looking for assistance with your own cloud migration? Datavail has helped hundreds of clients move their IT environments to the cloud. Our list of cloud migration services includes:

  • Performing a cloud readiness assessment and a total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis.
  • Creating a cloud migration roadmap and strategy.
  • Application development and migration, including architecture, design and software upgrades.
  • Complex cloud migrations with minimal downtime.
  • Cloud data analytics, including data integration/ETL, data warehouses, reporting and dashboards.

To learn more about the process of migrating to the cloud, download our white paper “Your Journey to the Cloud: What You Need to Know.” You can also contact our team of cloud migration experts today for a chat about your unique business needs and objectives.

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