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“Lift and shift” is a particular technique in software migration where an application or code base is simply taken out of one environment and placed in another environment, without significant underlying design change.
The lift and shift approach has been popular for many legacy migration projects. However, it has to be contrasted with various alternatives. One alternative is re-architecting, where the application or code base in question gets fundamentally redesigned in order to work in a different environment. Another alternative is re-factoring, where an application is changed when it reaches the new environment, i.e., the cloud.
In evaluating lift and shift versus re-factoring, engineers and developers have to consider various pros and cons. Lift and shift does not require as much effort in migration, and migration can take place more quickly, but the application may not be able to take advantage of all of the benefits of the new environment — again, usually the cloud (versus legacy on-premises).
Re-factoring allows for more cloud benefits, but requires more effort and cost in migration.
Some companies may lift and shift and then pursue re-factoring or re-architecting as necessary.