Cloud Migration vs Cloud Modernization. Which is Right for Your Customers?

August 30, 2023

By Koby Phillips – VP of Cloud Practice, Telarus  

Greetings, friends! These days, chances are you are having conversations with your customers who are still contemplating full migration to the cloud from their legacy systems. Perhaps they are dabbling in cloud-based services for data back-up or using cloud collaboration tools like Google Docs or Microsoft 365 for remote work. While the shift to cloud continues to accelerate – Gartner predicts almost two-thirds (65.9%) of spending on application software will be directed toward cloud technologies in 2025, up from 57.7% in 2022 — there is no one-size-fits all approach to adoption. Yet straddling both worlds can mitigate scalability, innovation, and cost-savings. In this installation of my blog series, “Business Success Insights for Telarus Cloud Partners”, we’ll discuss the different approaches to optimizing the cloud and ways to help your customers determine if, how and when it makes good business sense for them to take the leap.  

But first, let’s clear something up…  

The difference between cloud migration and cloud modernization

Cloud migration and modernization are often used interchangeably, but there is a key difference. Cloud migration, or as it is called a “lift and shift”, refers to moving an organization’s data, applications, and IT infrastructure from on-premises or traditional data centers to the cloud. This involves transferring workloads, storage, servers, databases, and software applications to cloud-based platforms provided by cloud service providers (CSPs).  

Cloud migration is a good approach if budget is a concern because it involves minimal investment and downtime. Lift-and-shift makes it easier for CEOs and key stakeholders to see the cloud’s benefits, making it more likely they will support the move, and ideally, the company can make more changes in the future once they achieve the initial shift.

However, simply migrating data, applications, and infrastructure to the cloud means you’re only changing where you’re hosting the application, leaving a lot of cost-savings and productivity benefits on the table. It’s like moving your family to a new house so your kids can attend a better school, then still sending your kids to the same school as before the move. Yes, you moved however you did not accomplish what you really wanted to.  

Cloud modernization is the process of upgrading or replacing applications to take full advantage of cloud-native architecture and cloud services. An application is likely to run more reliably, securely, and efficiently using a cloud-native architecture than its monolithic predecessor. It allows development teams to build, deploy, and operate applications directly in the dynamic cloud environment, eliminating the effort required for the maintenance of the underlying infrastructure. The result: faster time to market and less bottlenecks getting there.

Three main approaches to application modernization

There are three main approaches to application modernization: serverless, containers and replatforming, each with its upsides and downsides.


Serverless involves a set of underlying cloud services that fully removes any semblance of server management. Instead of using physical servers or virtual machines to host and run code, a CSP executes the code in response to specific events or triggers. It is basically infrastructure as code.  

Upsides: Serverless architecture can perform automatic up- and down-scaling dictated by current workloads and demand. That means companies only pay for the resources their applications use. During off-peak hours, serverless apps partially shut down, allowing for cost savings. Additionally, serverless allows developers to focus on their applications instead of the headaches of managing and operating servers or runtimes. This reduction of ancillary work lets developers save time. 

Downside: With serverless, apps must be written specifically to use CSP infrastructure, making them more complex to build and maintain. Additionally, CSPs may require additional services or integrations to make the application work seamlessly with their platform. For customers who lack sufficient in-house resources, Telarus can recommend a variety of suppliers that can provide these services and solutions. 

Good for: Serverless is great for new application builds with resource-intensive code, such as image-processing pipelines used for facial recognition. Serverless is also useful on an ad hoc basis when IT teams need to set up an unexpected workload. And serverless excels when the traffic pattern rises significantly, such as email servers for an accounting firm during tax season. It automatically detects the load change and adjusts instantly. 


A container is cloud-native software that holds everything an application needs to run. Monolithic, code-heavy applications in a legacy system can be rewritten in a container to be cloud native by breaking it down into smaller bits of separately upgradable code called microservices. Microservices usually have few if any dependencies and perform a focused action or task. 

Upsides: Containers are a great choice for companies that want the flexibility to install and use software with specific version requirements. With full control of the installed programming language and runtime version with containers, developers can quickly move applications between host servers. This is especially useful for migrating legacy applications to the cloud because it enables developers to replicate an application’s original running environment. 

Downsides: Containers share the same host, which can pose a security risk. If a container is compromised, it can potentially affect other containers on the same host. However, container-specific security measures, such as container isolation and network segmentation, can mitigate this risk. Containers can also be complex to set up and manage, especially in large-scale environments. Container orchestration tools, such as Kubernetes, can help to simplify the process, but they can also add complexity.  

Good for: Containers are ideal for organizations that don’t want to rewrite their apps in a CSP’s proprietary code. Instead, they can pull apart massive application codes into smaller pieces that can execute independently.


The re-platforming approach consists of moving applications almost as-is, perhaps replacing or slightly tweaking some components to take advantage of the cloud for scalability. If cloud migration is “lift-and-shift”, then re-platforming is “lift-tinker-and-shift”. 

Upsides: Refactoring a monolithic app to cloud-native can take years. Re-platforming allows businesses to capture some immediate benefits of cloud-native while minimizing the time and complexity of migration. Example: Re-platforming database workloads off legacy databases, where the goal is to release the organization from the day-to-day care and feeding of the database. 

Downside: Re-platforming doesn’t promise all the desirable functionality and innovation a cloud-native app allows.

Good for: A high-profile example of a successful re-platforming effort is Netflix, which migrated from its legacy data center infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to meet ever-increasing data volumes. This also made data more resilient because an on-premises server can fail, while distributed cloud servers provide multiple layers of redundancy. 

To migrate or modernize: Guiding customers to the right approach

In an ideal world, any-sized organization looking to improve productivity, meet end-user expectations, and stay competitive in today’s digital business landscape will switch to apps designed to run in the cloud, rewrite proprietary apps for the cloud, and leave behind legacy systems and databases that are clogging up money and resources. When a company shifts to the cloud and then starts modernizing applications and its assets, it starts seeing higher returns. But as organizations start to take advantage of cloud computing and break down monolithic structures, it’s worth remembering that success may require a cultural shift as well. Companies should weigh the risks and rewards involved in every phase of the modernization journey before choosing the best strategy, ensuring full stakeholder alignment and buy-in from the get-go. A risk-reward assessment will create a roadmap for the modernization process and measure its potential success. As a technology advisor, with Telarus’ cloud expertise and best-in-class suppliers by your side, you can play a critical role in guiding your customers to a more agile, efficient, and successful future that fits with their business goals and challenges.  

Speaking of Telarus by your side…be sure to check out the SolutionVue™ Cloud Quick Solution Assessment (QSA).  If you’re new to selling cloud solutions, this self-guided tool helps you start customer conversations and conduct cloud technology assessments with confidence in real time.   

Want to learn more about how Telarus Cloud and other Advanced Solutions can accelerate your business? You can contact Koby at