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App Development
6 minutes read

Understanding the Application Migration Process 

By Robert Kazmi
By Robert Kazmi
App Development
6 minutes read

The application migration process is not as complicated as you might believe. Organizations often want to change the computing environment of their software application to access more resources, scale faster, or improve performance. 

Application migration is common, but without a clear migration strategy, your organization’s application migration project could run into trouble and negatively impact your company’s software. 

This post will explain what application migration is, the different migration strategies, and a few best practices to ensure successful application migration.

What Is Application Migration?

Application migration is the process of moving a software program from one computing environment to another. Typically, organizations will migrate from an on-premises server to a cloud environment, or they will migrate from one provider to a new cloud provider’s environment. 

In some cases, companies may elect to reverse cloud migration and move from a cloud environment back to a locally hosted environment. However, when it comes to migrating applications, the majority of organizations are moving to a cloud environment, not off of one. 

The reason most businesses are moving to cloud environments and not off of them is that cloud computing gives organizations more computing flexibility, scalability, and, in most cases, more computing power. 

Common Application Migration Strategies

What complicates cloud migration services are the differences between the software’s original environment and its new target environment. Migrating applications to or from the cloud can be challenging because applications are not generally designed to be portable, even when they are cloud-based. 

For example, the database configurations between cloud providers differ, so if you’re interested in app migration from Google Cloud to AWS, you must consider data migration if you don’t want to lose all of your organization’s data.

In this example, your business can utilize an AWS database migration service. Still, there might not always be application migration tools and services readily available to make the migration to a new environment easy. Keep that in mind while reviewing these application migration strategies. 

While one strategy might look more appealing to your business than others, the migration approach your business ends up using will mostly depend on the current state of your application and the goals your business has. 

  • Replatform
  • Rehost
  • Refactor 
  • Rebuild
  • Retire and replace


This approach to application migration is used when organizations want to move applications to the cloud or off the cloud. To replatform an application it must undergo some tweaks to benefit from a new on-premises or cloud architecture. 

Replatforming could include containerizing services, changing operating systems, or upgrading the application in other manners. The tweaks made in a replatforming strategy are often minor compared to the changes other approaches require. 


This approach is also called the “lift and shift” strategy. Rehosting involves migrating an application without making any changes to it. While it may seem like this approach is the simplest and most cost-effective, rehosting could actually cost more in the long run.

The long-term costs can be higher with this approach if there are compatibility, scalability, or feature-based issues with your application’s new environment. Changes are made to an application to make migration easier. 

Sometimes, your business might be able to simply rehost its application. However, in most cases, some tweaks to the application must be made to ensure it performs properly. 


Organizations refactor the code of their applications to ensure that they scale in cloud environments. Refactoring entails significant changes to your organization’s existing application. 

While refactoring takes the most time up front, in the long run, this approach is often the most effective way to successfully migrate applications. 


The rebuild approach entails rebuilding an application to be compatible with the cloud. Generally, this approach is disruptive. Organizations look to refactor their code first, but if this option is not possible, they might be forced to rebuild their application to complete migration. 

Retire and Replace

If your organization faces a rebuild, it might make more sense to retire your application and replace it with a new option. The retire and replace approach can also be effective when your organization faces a difficult refactoring or its current application doesn’t meet its needs anymore. 

Application Migration Best Practices 

If you want application migration to be successful and as stress-free as possible, there are a few best practices your organization should follow, including the following: 

  • Map out a strategy
  • Involve the business 
  • Train staff
  • Automate when possible 
  • Test

Map out a Strategy 

Before committing to application migration, identify the business reasons and use cases for migrating to a new environment. If there is not a good reason to migrate your application, you shouldn’t waste time and resources doing so. 

Once you commit to migration, consider how you will migrate your application. Perhaps a phased cloud migration approach is the most appropriate path forward, or maybe your business should migrate its application all at once. 

The important thing is that your business needs to consider these questions before the application migration process begins. 

Involve the Business 

Clear communication is vital to almost every aspect of business. Ensure that all units of your organization participate in migration and understand how it will affect their processes

Poor communication not only leads to personnel frustration but can also lead to costly migration errors that affect your business operations. 

Train Staff

Staff should be trained in the new environment as soon as possible. Not only does this practice mitigate the threat of operational disruptions, but it also helps communicate the new changes to all employees and business units. 

Automate When Possible 

Automation can be used to improve the efficiency of migration tasks. Application migration can be a time-consuming process, but with automation, repetitive migration tasks can be done faster with less risk of error. 


Without a proper testing plan, successful migration is very difficult to accomplish. On the first day of migration, your organization should consider how it can test the results of its application migration project to ensure that everything functions correctly. 

Final Thoughts 

Application migration can seem daunting for your organization, but it doesn’t have to be. The best thing your business can do is plan and partner with a skilled migration expert to ensure that the process goes smoothly. If you want to learn more about application migration, contact an experienced app development partner like Koombea

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