Abstract Data lines in blue

The seven Rs of cloud migration: Part Two

Explore the pros, cons, and best practices of seven cloud migration options.
Here: Re-platforming and Re-factoring.  

November 05 2021Nico Herzhauser

Migrating your applications to the cloud

In part one, we looked at the common lift and shift method - Re-host and Re-locate - the equivalent option for those running their on-premises IT on VMware.  Taking the time to adjust your applications when you move them - by Re-platforming or Re-factoring - can realize significant benefits for your organization. 

Charting success: Your cloud strategy

Man looking on a tablet display

A cloud strategy is essential because it will help inform your decision-making from day one. Consider: 

Cloud knowledge

What skills are available in-house? Will you need to upskill or retrain your IT team, create new roles, or partner with a managed service provider?

Network connectivity

A critical but often overlooked factor of cloud migration is connectivity; don’t leave it until later.   

Disaster recovery and business continuity

Understand the division of roles and responsibilities between you and the cloud provider in the event of a failure and how they will manage communications.     

Your cloud model

The regulations that apply to your sector will dictate your cloud model to some extent, and whether a private, public, hybrid, or multi-cloud model strategy is right for you.  


The cloud offers access to security technologies through economies of scale that could be prohibitively expensive if deployed in-house. A security posture plan will protect your assets. 

What is Re-platforming?  

Re-platforming is when you move your application to the cloud but change or update specific parts of it to take advantage of readymade services offered by your cloud provider. Re-platforming makes the application more cloud-enabled rather than completely cloud-native.

This cloud migration option means you can take advantage of several benefits of the cloud, like cost and performance improvements, but without the risk, complexity, and expense of a radical change.

Sometimes referred to as ‘lift-tinker-and-shift,’ Re-platforming entails a few cloud optimizations without changing the core architecture of the application. For example, you may want to reduce the amount of time you spend managing database instances, so you move to a database-as-a-service offering like the Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS).

The pros and cons of Re-platforming


  • Re-platforming is ideal for when you have identified the value of adding new features in the cloud but want to avoid the expense and downtime of a full rearchitecting (Re-factoring)
  • Requires less time, money, and specialized development expertise than Re-factoring. Consequently, you should see a faster return on your investment
  • Instead of developing all-new solutions in-house, Re-platforming your application enables you to address one element at a time while keeping the rest intact and functioning in the cloud.


  • It’s crucial that your developers stay within the scope of the Re-platforming and focus only on changing the features specified. If not, the project may sprawl and exceed the agreed time and budget

What is Re-factoring?

Re-factoring – also termed rearchitecting, is rebuilding the functionality you want within available cloud services. Or at least changing significant portions of your app’s codebase so that it fits your new cloud environment.

Typically, Re-factoring is driven by a business case for new features, performance improvements, or scalability that would be difficult to achieve in the application’s current environment. You may also want to improve agility or business continuity by moving to a service-oriented architecture.  

Re-factoring makes sense for long-term projects when you are willing to wait to realize the advantages and that the return will justify your investment in time and budget. Re-factoring is also a wise choice for major retools, where you want to add multiple new components to an application at once rather than piecemeal.

This approach realizes the most value from the cloud, as you are choosing the best and most appropriate services for your users’ needs without compromise.

The pros and cons of Re-factoring

A cloud in a clear cube on blue background


  • Re-factoring enables you to reinvent and fine-tune your application to leverage the benefits of the cloud
  • Can deliver significant savings if you pare down your use of resources, so you’re only paying for the cloud hosting you need
  • Allows you to replace outdated code with modern, efficient code and weave greater flexibility and functionality into your application. 
  • It is a good option for the jewels in your IT estate when you need to retain your intellectual property and USPs
  • Presents the opportunity to engage with your users and make your custom app even better.


  • Is the most expensive and time-consuming cloud migration option
  • Demands your DevOps team’s highest level of coding skills
  • Even the most talented engineers risk introducing errors by rewriting legacy code, especially if they didn’t write the original code
  • For apps with no distinct IP or USP, the effort required to rearchitect may outweigh the gains

Summing up  

Re-platforming and Re-factoring are more costly than Re-hosting, or ‘lift and shift, but offer many more benefits in the long run. It can take a long time to re-factor applications, so consider tackling the activities which can release the most significant business advantages in your cloud-first world.  

There is more risk involved, so consider an iterative approach, like starting with Re-hosting and Re-factoring later or using a sprint project management approach with a minimum viable outcome that you can continue to refine.

About the author

Nico Herzhauser

Solutions Architect, T-Systems International GmbH

Show profile and articles
Do you visit t-systems.com outside of Germany? Visit the local website for more information and offers for your country.