Exploring the Different Types of Cloud Migration

As of 2022, 60% of all businesses have undergone a cloud migration project. Migrating efficiently from physical servers ...

As of 2022, 60% of all businesses have undergone a cloud migration project. Migrating efficiently from physical servers to cloud platforms is a major goal of organizations around the world. Increased demand for cloud migration has led to innovative strategies that streamline the process into six basic types of cloud migration.

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How Do the Different Types of Cloud Migration Strategies Work for Businesses?

"The cloud" is the common name for a massive, world-spanning network of computing servers that are all connected via the internet. Cloud migration is the task of moving a company's computing system efficiently from private servers to cloud servers. Cloud migration can also involve moving a computing system or company data between clouds or to a different section of the cloud.

Keeping a company's digital infrastructure in the cloud rather than on private, on-site servers has many advantages. Here are just a few:

  • Employees can access cloud data quickly and securely from anywhere in the world.
  • Damage, accidents or cyberattacks won't result in total data loss the way they might with physical servers, as the cloud automatically backs up data across multiple locations.
  • Tech giants such as Microsoft have dedicated IT teams that continually run upkeep on cloud servers, taking significant pressure off cloud-connected companies' IT departments.

While there are many benefits to migrating a company's computing to the cloud, it is also a major undertaking with many possible pitfalls. Poor planning or misunderstanding the types of cloud migration risks data loss, security compromises, budget overruns and long delays.

Every company interested in cloud migration must have a dedicated strategy in place for success.

There is no one-size-fits-all method that is objectively best for a massive project such as cloud migration.

At Cloudficient, our experts take each specific business's security, organizational, budgetary and timeline needs into consideration when devising a tailor-made migration strategy. The "six Rs" of cloud migration represent the most common and effective strategies in use today. Let’s take a look at them now.

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What Are the 6 Types of Cloud Migration?

Understanding each type of cloud migration is the first step in devising a complete migration strategy. Keep in mind that companies rarely use just one strategy for their entire computing system. Mixing and matching to achieve specific goals is key to success.

A strong cloud migration plan incorporates multiple strategies depending on each application's security needs, importance, size and other factors.

1. Rehosting

Rehosting, sometimes referred to as the "lift-and-shift" method, is the most straightforward type of cloud migration. It involves making a copy of all company data and uploading that data to cloud servers. Rehosting is a simple drag-and-drop operation that does not integrate company computing with the cloud's computing capabilities.

Rehosting is akin to moving an older shelving system from an old house to a new house completely unchanged. The structure of the company's data storage and any applications on the company servers will all remain the same.

house move

While rehosting is the least intensive and lowest-risk type of cloud migration, the lack of true integration with the cloud servers limits how a company can leverage the cloud's many useful technologies. For conservative-minded companies wanting a simple backup copy of their data on a secure cloud platform, rehosting is a viable option.

2. Replatforming

Replatforming is a middle option that is slightly more involved than rehosting. This tactic allows access to useful basic cloud features without transforming a company's computing system. Replatforming is sometimes called "lift-and-optimize," and it makes small cosmetic and ease-of-use improvements to a company's digital infrastructure.

Old company applications may receive new interface systems The overall operating system also receives a facelift that adds helpful cloud organizational features.

Refactoring is one of the most cost-effective and low-risk types of cloud migration because the structure of the company applications doesn't change or truly integrate with the cloud. It's comparable to keeping most of an old shelving and organizational system from an old house but making small, smart improvements that fit the new house's aesthetic.

3. Repurchasing

Repurchasing is the process of moving data and computing from company applications into new, cloud-optimized applications. In basic turns, this means purchasing and switching over to a software as a service platform.

SaaS platforms provide some of the easiest-to-use and most versatile cloud data software applications in the business sphere. Many offer affordable and scalable prices. Repurchasing requires retraining employees and IT personnel on a new system, but it is less expensive and involved than building new systems from scratch. Repurchasing is akin to buying state-of-the-art organizational shelving for a new house, rather than simply moving over an old shelving system.


Customizing and upgrading SaaS platforms is fairly easy, making repurchasing a good option for a growing business. SaaS platforms also integrate well with cloud technologies, giving your company a computing advantage over companies with outdated legacy systems. Companies wishing to modernize their data systems should consider repurchasing, as it is one of the most efficient types of cloud migration.

4. Refactoring

Refactoring is the most intense cloud migration option. It involves completely overhauling a company's applications and data management systems. Often it calls for building new applications from scratch.

Refactoring can also potentially provide the most useful returns. Envision refactoring as designing and building a custom shelving system when moving to a new home, rather than buying a new premade shelving system or keeping an old system.

Refactoring allows a business to design a completely new and optimized computing system with a specific, often futureproof, goal in mind. This goal can be serverless computing, advanced security protocols or cloud auto-scaling, in which a cloud-based computing system monitors and upgrades itself over time.

5. Retiring

Cloud migration can be an expensive process, so it helps to cut costs where possible. If an application is no longer necessary to the company's computing, it makes sense to leave it behind rather than migrate it to the cloud. Retiring is similar to decluttering during a move.


6. Retaining

It is not always possible to migrate all of a company's data from private servers to cloud servers. Security protocols or government regulations may prohibit cloud migration for certain types of data and applications. In these cases, a company must retain its old system and servers for now. Technology and regulations often change, so it may be possible to migrate at a later date.

How Do You Decide Which of the 6 Types of Cloud Migration Is Right for Your Business?

A comprehensive data migration plan combines multiple strategies to create a smooth, efficient and timely transition. A 2021 report showed that 75% of companies went over budget for their cloud migration project, while 38% of companies exceeded their expected timeline. Avoid unexpected costs and delays by examining key cloud migration concerns thoroughly beforehand.

Determine Scope

Before you begin planning, list all of the applications and assets affected by the cloud migration. Even a small increase in scope has an exponential effect when using the most intensive types of cloud migration, such as refactoring or repurchasing.

Consider Unique Goals

Ultimately, choosing a type of cloud migration comes down to your company's individual computing goals. A conservative goal of simply having a cloud backup is a good fit for rehosting or replatforming. If the goal is to transform a legacy system so it includes modern features and can adapt over time, repurchasing may be the best choice. If the goal is more specific, such as futureproofing your company's computing, consider refactoring.

Decide on a Timeframe and Budget

Different cloud migration strategies vary widely in their expected timeframes. If time is a concern, choose a less intensive strategy at first and plan to revisit the process later. Intensive methods such as refactoring can take up to five years to complete.

Spending more on a cloud migration project can speed up intensive migration timelines to one year or less. This cost may be worth it in many industries where improved digital infrastructure provides immediate financial returns, such as businesses with online ordering.

Evaluate Risks

There are risks involved in both the less and more intensive types of cloud migration. A more involved process involves moving more data and transforming applications, with more opportunities for mistakes. Repurchasing mitigates these risks somewhat by using proven software rather than building untested software.

However, using enhanced cloud security features after a migration lowers long-term data breach risk considerably. A solid strategy balances both the risks inherent in the migration process and risks going forward.

At Cloudficient we try hard to remove all project risk when performing a cloud migration. One of the ways that we do that is by performing a proof of concept. It’s with your users, in your environment, and with your data.

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Envision Business Impact

Ultimately, cloud migration can have a massive positive impact on a business. Envision what you'd like that impact to be in the planning stages. A new computing system with cloud-enabled features can drastically improve efficiency across the board, but some companies may prefer to keep using legacy systems with more incremental improvements.

Where Can You Find Expert Guidance on the 6 Types of Cloud Migration?

Each of the six types of cloud migration requires careful planning. At Cloudficient, we are certified Microsoft Gold partners with years of experience guiding companies through cloud migration and helping them select optimal strategies. Contact us to learn more about cloud migration and how it can transform your business.

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