Cloud migration approach: Choosing between rehosting, replatforming, and refactoring

June 6, 2023

Cloud migration is essential for organizations seeking agility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. However, meticulous planning and strategizing are crucial for every cloud journey, particularly when deciding whether to rehost, re-platform, or refactor.  

This article will examine three migration strategies and offer valuable insights to assist your cloud migration journey.  

  • What is cloud migration and how cloud migration works?
  • Overview of Rehosting, re-platforming, and Refactoring
  • Choosing the right migration strategy
  • Pros and Cons of Rehosting, Re-platforming, and Refactoring

What is Cloud migration?

Transferring an organization’s data, applications, and other business elements from their on-site computers or servers to the cloud or from one cloud environment to another is known as cloud migration. The term “cloud” refers to servers accessible via the internet and the software and databases running on them.

Cloud migration can provide numerous benefits, including greater scalability, more flexible cost structures, and improved performance and reliability.

How does Cloud migration work?

Cloud migration involves the process of transferring an organization’s digital assets, such as applications, data, and IT resources, from on-premises infrastructure to a cloud computing environment. It can be accomplished through various methods, such as rehosting (lift-and-shift), re-platforming, or refactoring, each with advantages and considerations.  

Here’s a simplified overview of how cloud migration typically works:

  • Assess and plan: Evaluate your existing infrastructure, define migration goals, and develop a comprehensive plan for transitioning to the cloud.
  • Choose a cloud provider: Select a suitable cloud service provider based on factors such as pricing, services, and security, ensuring it aligns with your business needs.
  • Design and prepare: Design the cloud architecture, establish connectivity, and prepare your applications and data for migration.
  • Data migration: Securely transferring your data to the cloud environment, maintaining data integrity, and ensuring a smooth transition.
  • Application migration: Move your applications to the cloud, either by rehosting, re-platforming, or refactoring, to optimize their performance in the cloud environment.
  • Optimize and test: Fine-tune your cloud infrastructure, optimize performance, and thoroughly test the migrated applications to ensure they function as expected.
  • Go live and monitor: Switch over to the cloud environment, redirect user traffic, shut down on-premises infrastructure, and continuously monitor and optimize your cloud resources for ongoing success.

Understanding the strategies: Rehosting, re-platforming, and refactoring

Before delving into which strategy suits you best, let’s start by understanding what rehosting, re-platforming, and refactoring mean.

  • Rehosting or “lift-and-shift” involves moving applications and data to the cloud with minimal changes. This approach is typically faster and less resource-intensive, making it attractive for organizations looking for quick cloud migration.
  • Re-platforming is making a few cloud optimizations to achieve tangible benefits without changing the core application architecture. This strategy is a middle ground, allowing you to tap into some of the cloud’s benefits without the complexity and cost of refactoring.
  • Refactoring involves re-architecting and often re-coding an application to fully leverage cloud-native features. This method can be more time-consuming and costly, but it yields the most significant benefits in terms of performance, scalability, and cost optimization in the long run.

Choosing the right Cloud migration strategy

Once you have gained a solid understanding of what is a cloud migration strategy, it’s time to pick the one that works for your business. Choosing between rehosting, re-platforming, and refactoring requires careful consideration of various factors, including your organizational objectives, budget, time constraints, application architecture, and in-house skills.

  • Rehosting (lift & shift): If your organization is facing a time-bound event like an upcoming data center contract expiration and aims for a quick migration with minimal disruption, rehosting might be the right choice. Additionally, if your applications are relatively simple, have a short lifespan, or lack the necessary in-house skills for more complex migrations, rehosting is worth considering.
  • Re-platforming: An ideal strategy if your applications could benefit from a few cloud optimizations but don’t require full-scale refactoring. For instance, you might want to reduce management overhead by leveraging managed services, or your applications could benefit from improved performance or scalability available in a cloud environment.
  • Refactoring: This could be the best choice when your application needs to leverage cloud-native features for maximum scalability, performance, or cost optimization. Furthermore, if your applications require substantial changes to meet evolving business requirements or if you’re building a competitive advantage through unique, custom-built software, refactoring is a wise choice.

Pros and cons of rehosting, re-platforming, and refactoring

The Lift & Shift (rehosting) migration approach and its advantages and disadvantages


  • Speed: Rehosting is usually the quickest way to migrate to the cloud, requiring minimal application changes.
  • Cost-effectiveness: This method requires less upfront investment and does not require extensive re-coding.
  • Reduced complexity: Rehosting reduces the migration risk because it involves fewer changes, which decreases the potential for issues during the process.


  • Limited optimization: While this strategy gets your applications onto the cloud quickly, it doesn’t optimize them to take full advantage of cloud capabilities.
  • Possible higher long-term costs: Since applications aren’t optimized for the cloud, they may incur more operational costs in the long run.

The re-platforming migration approach and its pros and cons


  • Moderate cloud benefits: Re-platforming enables you to leverage some cloud benefits without changing the core application architecture.
  • Balanced approach: This method provides a balance between the speed of rehosting and the optimization of refactoring.


  • Requires some modification: Unlike rehosting, re-platforming does require some changes to the application, which can add to the complexity of the migration.
  • Partial optimization: While re-platforming does offer more benefits than rehosting, it still doesn’t enable full utilization of cloud-native features.

The refactoring (re-architecting) migration approach and its pros and cons


  • Maximum optimization: Refactoring enables applications to take full advantage of cloud-native features and capabilities, providing significant performance, scalability, and cost benefits.
  • Future-proofing: This method can make applications more agile and easier to update and maintain, positioning your organization for future growth and innovation.


  • Costly and time-consuming: Refactoring usually requires the most time, effort, and expense, as it can involve substantial re-coding and re-architecting.
  • Increased complexity: This strategy introduces more complexity into the migration process, potentially leading to more issues or delays.

Balancing business objectives and technical considerations

When moving to the cloud, it’s essential to consider more than just the technical aspects. Your chosen strategy should be aligned with your overall business objectives. Simply choosing the fastest or cheapest migration method is inadequate. The key is to select a strategy that maximizes the cloud’s potential, allowing your business to meet current needs while also positioning you for future growth and innovation.


Cloud migration is an important strategic decision that goes beyond the realm of IT. It has significant implications for your organization’s agility, cost efficiency, and capacity for innovation. Whether you’re considering rehosting, re-platforming, or refactoring, we’re confident in our ability to help you make an informed decision aligned with your business objectives. Get in touch with us at to discover how we can support you on your cloud migration journey.