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Have you migrated to the cloud yet? If the answer is no, then you are in the minority. You may currently be relying upon on-premises (or even off-site) servers for most of your enterprise’s data, software, and application needs. On the other hand, a majority of businesses have already moved their data, enterprise solutions, and applications to the cloud.

The companies that haven’t yet moved to the cloud and are still working with on-premise servers may lose their competitive edge to their more forward-thinking peers. Being on the cloud offers you more chances to scale up, adapt to newer technologies, and fast-track your tech-heavy business transformation.

But it’s never too late to do the right thing. And if you are thinking of migrating to the cloud now, you should be familiar with some of the most prevalent cloud migration strategies.

Six Cloud Migration Strategies (The Six Rs)

Simply put, cloud migration is the process of shifting the digital front of your business to the cloud. The six most common cloud migration strategies are conveniently known as the six Rs of migration. They will give you a good starting point and help you determine which approach is best for your organization to take.

It’s important to understand that your company’s cloud migration might not be exclusively just one of the following strategies. It can be a combination of two or more of these.

1. Rehosting

The re-hosting strategy, also called lift and shift, is the simplest cloud migration strategy there is. The concept is that you migrate your current digital environment and data as-is to the cloud. That doesn’t require any extensive changes. It’s an effective strategy for a conservative and relatively static organization pursuing any major changes or expansion.

But it doesn’t really help a company take true advantage of the cloud environment. Companies seeking this migration strategy might choose an IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) provider to facilitate the migration.

2. Re-platforming

Re-platforming is a variation of re-hosting. It's beneficial for organizations that don't want to make any significant changes to their core digital architecture but still want to benefit from going over to the cloud. So they make a few cloud optimizations to improve the data flow-handling capability of their systems.

An additional benefit here is that while migrating from on-premise servers, the company can also switch from costly licensed application containers to an open-source counterpart. This reduces the cost of high upfront re-platforming costs. Companies that want time to adjust to the cloud, reap some of the benefits it offers, while not changing the architecture they are familiar with, can choose re-platforming.

3. Refactoring

If your legacy systems were too limited in their capacity and you want to overhaul your application while migrating to the cloud, then refactoring is the strategy you can go with. It requires rebuilding your applications from the ground up while leveraging the power of the cloud. You will essentially be “refactoring” the cloud advantage when building new applications. One of the advantages here is that your legacy systems can keep the old version of the applications alive and running until you are completely ready for cloud migration. So there is no significant pause.

4. Repurchasing

It’s also known as drop and shop, and it essentially means dropping your current legacy system and moving to a cloud-based version. What you switch to is usually a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform, and it's usually lighter, more feature-rich, and scaleable than your current legacy-based system. The most common example is moving a CRM to Salesforce. The catch is that your employees have to familiarize themselves with the new platform.

5.  Retiring

It’s not a cloud migrating strategy per se, rather a part of most other migration strategies. When you are planning your cloud migration, some applications won’t be necessary to migrate at all. Maybe because you already have better cloud-versions of them (repurchasing), or they may be available as modules of your other cloud-based applications. Moving a legacy version to the cloud as a redundancy only aids in the cost and is rarely beneficial.

6. Retaining

Retaining is the “no migration” migration strategy. Lack of resources, a legacy system that can support your applications for a few years more without requiring cloud-only benefits or compliance issues, can sometimes prevent you from migrating to the cloud. Or, it might not be feasible or beneficial to migrate to the cloud yet.

You have to choose which strategy, or which combination of these cloud migration strategies is best suited for your organization.

Cloud Migration Checklist

It's important to understand that there is no standard cloud migration checklist. There are far too many variables in the equation to streamline the process for every organization. What your current legacy system is like? Can your applications survive the business loss due to down-time, which cloud are you migrating too, etc.? Still, there are few things that you may need to check for any cloud migration.

  1. Identify why you are migrating to the cloud. This will help you choose the right strategy and optimize the cloud and reshape your architecture accordingly. This will also help you determine the level of cloud-integration and the benefits you can reap from the migration.
  2. Whether a single-cloud would be fine or should you go multi-cloud. For some companies, a hybrid cloud is another option (or a step in full migration).
  3. List down your cloud KPIs. Cloud migration can be an expensive endeavor, and if it’s not getting you the results you were hoping for, then something is awry. Establishing and pursuing the right cloud KPIs can help you improve your ROI.
  4. If you have a lot of applications to move, you should prioritize what you are going to migrate first.
  5. Create a data-migration plan. You can’t plan for every eventuality, but the right plan will help ensure minimal to no complications in your cloud migration.
  6. You need your staff to be ready to deal with any issues that might arise. And to train them in the changes that will take place before, during, and after migration.
  7. Switch over to the cloud. Depending on which strategy you will use, there will be a time when you have both on-premise servers and cloud-ready for use. Switching from legacy to cloud can either be done at once or broken into small steps.


Cloud migration can be challenging and expensive, and that’s one of the reasons why many small businesses, especially the ones that have already invested a significant amount in legacy systems, are reluctant to take the step. They feel they should get the full usefulness out of the system they have created and invested in before moving on to something new.

What business owners like these don’t understand is that while they are contemplating the switch, many of their peers have already migrated to the cloud. And they are now experimenting with and adapting to the new system. This makes the businesses lose their competitive edge, and the lost opportunities are way more costly than the investment the migration might require.

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