Why using "Free" migration tools might not be the right solution for you

As companies navigate through the adoption of Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud or Multi-Cloud, they are faced with numerous challenges and decisions. Which cloud should be adopted? What are the differing computing and cost models between clouds? Will the cloud really save my organization money?

All of these decisions play a large role in the pace at which cloud adoption occurs. Some Solution Providers will recommend "rebuild everything for the cloud" but practically speaking, there are plenty of issues that can prohibit that option. Budget, business or financial imperatives, as well as, timelines and resourcing are all factors that can make a total redo a non-starter. According to a recent survey performed by RiverMeadow (in connection with partners), 70% of all workloads are now being "Lift and Evolved" to the cloud in order to get faster returns on cloud adoption. In other words, IaaS Compute to Compute migration is necessary and an important cloud adoption strategy. If you are looking to "Lift and Evolve" your Workloads to the cloud, you need to look at automation and tooling for scale and ease of use. 

As you evaluate the tools to get the job done, you will find that many clouds offer "Free Tools" for onboarding to their platform or cloud. There are times when these limited use cases for Free Tools are applicable, but more often than not, they just don't get the job done.

What to look for: 

In general, the Free Tools available are point solutions, targeted at a single cloud, and not surprisingly only offer a one-way destination. They also tend to be overly complex to set up and often come with limitations that can hamper your efforts. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you determine fit:

Can the tool address all of your workloads?

Physical, Virtual, Cloud, Windows, Linux, Ubuntu, SLES, Oracle Linux - Every tool has limits, and it's important to know how much coverage you will get. You want the tool to cover the majority of your needs. If you have mostly physical servers, you need a tool that can take those servers where you want them to go.

What is the tool's footprint?

Some tools have complex setups, storage needs and require a lot of moving parts. It can take a significant amount of time to get it all setup and working right.

What are the access requirements?

Some tools require hypervisor level access. This can be a tough sell, especially in shared environments. If you are migrating from hosted environments, hypervisor access may not be available.

Who will be doing the work?

Migration is often a multidisciplinary exercise (Deep Linux and Windows knowledge), and often require's highly skilled team members to execute, troubleshoot and otherwise fill in the gaps in the features and capabilities of free tools.

Who will support you?

Last and certainly not least, where will you go for help? There is a lot of knowledge out there in the forums and internet searches, but it does still cost time, and time is often in short supply.

The hidden costs of free

Let's take a deeper look at what you get and what you don't get with some of the Free Tool solutions on the market today.

SMS - AWS Server Migration Service

  • Requires Hypervisor access (do you want to give someone the "keys to your kingdom")
  • Limitation on how many VM's you can move at once
  • Limitation on how often you can sync
  • Cannot "Evolve" your workload as part of migration
  • Very Complex to set up
  • Limited use cases
    • No physical to Virtual
    • No previously virtualized system
    • Sources have to be VMware or HyperV to AWS
    • Only works for AWS as a target
    • Only supported in certain AWS regions
  • No data only capability (no standardize templates)
  • No real support, forum community only
VMware Cloud Connector
  • Requires Hypervisor access (do you want to give someone the "keys to your kingdom")
  • Offline transfer only (not "live")
  • Cannot "Evolve" your workload as part of migration
  • API not available
  • VERY Complex to set up
  • Limited use cases
    • No physical to Virtual
    • Sources have to be VMware to VMware (no multi-cloud)
  • No data only capability


Migrating with a Free Tool can be very difficult and costly in the long run. Two important things to consider are the complexity of your Workloads and infrastructure and the level of skills available within your organization. The amount of expertise needed can be overwhelming. You may think your team is equipped with the right knowledge, but you can soon find yourself in a situation that will cost you a lot more to get yourself out of. Leveraging forums and not having a team ready when something goes wrong can be frustrating and time-consuming for your internal staff.

RiverMeadow has put together a suite of SaaS-delivered features and capabilities that are Migration-centric and designed to deliver cloud native workloads simply and cost-effectively. We believe the value we deliver is higher than these those free options when you evaluate the hidden costs of "Free."

Request a demo to learn more about RiverMeadow.