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AWS Migration

Application Migration to AWS: Free Tools to Ease Your Migration

What Is AWS Application Migration Service (AWS MGN)?

There are many ways to migrate applications to AWS. To ease your AWS migration, Amazon provides the AWS MGN service, a solution that automates lift-and-shift (rehost) application migration to AWS. MGN is available free for a 90-day period for each server you migrate; if you can migrate your application within this time window, you will not need to pay for it. 

MGN can quickly move your applications, including virtual, physical, and cloud servers, to the AWS cloud, where you can leverage AWS tools and services to modernize your application. The solution can help you avoid compatibility issues, long cutover windows, and performance disruption. It works by replicating source services into the relevant AWS account and then automatically converting and launching the required servers on AWS.

Most of this article will focus on MGN, but we’ll also cover two other Amazon services that will help you migrate your applications—App2Container (A2C) and Database Migration Service (DMS).

Related content: Read our guide to AWS migration strategy

In this article:

How Does AWS MGN Work?

Here’s how to use AWS MGN to lift and shift local servers to the AWS cloud:

Replication agent and settings
First, you need to ensure the AWS MGN Replication Agent is installed on the source server. Next, go to the AWS MGN console to view and modify your replication settings.

AWS MGN uses your settings to establish a staging area subnet, which contains lightweight Amazon EC2 instances. These instances serve as replication servers that facilitate data replication between the source server and the AWS cloud.


Image Source: AWS

Replication servers and encryption
The agents running on source servers send data to replication servers, which write the received data to volumes in Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS). AWS EBS compresses and encrypts all replicated data both in-transit and at-rest.

Decommissioning source servers
AWS MGN employs continuous data replication at the block level to ensure all source servers on AWS are up to date. The process uses predefined launch settings, which launch instances during cutovers and non-disruptive tests.

After launching cutover or test instances, MGN converts the source servers to AWS-native; the servers boot and can then run on AWS. Next, you need to confirm that the launched instances operate properly, and you can then decommission the source servers.

AWS Application Migration Service Pricing

AWS Application Migration Service provides 2,160 free hours per source server. When used continuously, this amount of time translates into 90 days. The free period starts when you install the AWS Replication Agent on the source server and continues while the source server replication process is active.

You can use these free 2,160 hours for each server you migrate. It is possible to complete server migration within this free period, and many AWS customers succeed. However, if you do not complete the migration of the server during the allotted free period, you are subject to hourly charges until the server is completely replicated.

Additional Charges

AWS Application Migration Service charges additional fees for the following:

  • AWS infrastructure resources provisioned to facilitate data replication.
  • AWS infrastructure resources provisioned to launch cutover or test instances, including EC2 instances and EBS volumes.

Resources are billed according to your AWS pricing plan. These charges are applicable during the free period.

Pricing Details

AWS Application Migration Service pricing remains the same for all supported AWS Regions.



Cost during first 90 days (2,160 hours) of server replication


Cost per hour (after free period)

$0.042 per server

Cost per month (after free period)

~$30 per server

AWS Application Migration Service Best Practices

The following best practices can help you make the most of AWS for your migration project.

Plan Your Migration Strategy

Before installing any machines, you need to have a clear plan for your migration project. Don’t reboot anything on your source servers before the transition.

Perform Tests

Tests should take place two weeks before migration at the latest. This interval gives you the time to identify and address potential issues before migrating your application. Once you’ve performed a test launch, use Secure Shell Protocol (SSH) for Linux or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) for Windows to check the connectivity of your test instances. This phase should also include acceptance testing.

Implement the Migration

An application migration service can help you successfully implement your migration strategy, although a successful migration should include the following key steps:

  1. Deploy the AWS replication agent on the source server.
  2. Verify the data replication health status and fix any problems you identify (e.g., an AWS limit or misconfiguration in the launch setting).
  3. Launch your new instances in AWS according to your planned schedule.

Ensure the Ongoing Success of Your Migration Project

A successful migration strategy doesn’t end with the initial migration process. You may want to leverage an application migration service to help you manage various project timelines and keep track of your progress. Once you’ve migrated your application to AWS, it is important to maintain it by:

  • Training your teams
  • Performing continuous tests and reporting issues
  • Monitoring the progress of data replication

Other AWS Recommended Tools for Application Migration

Replatform with AWS App2Container

AWS App2Container (A2C) is a replatforming tool you can use to shift your web apps to the cloud. This tool lets you containerize your application and standardize a single toolset for operations, software delivery, and monitoring.

You can use AWS A2C to directly replatform Java and .NET web-based applications into containers. You can unify all infrastructure and skillsets required to operate applications by containerizing your applications.

Once you choose an application to containerize, you can use A2C to package your application artifact and its dependencies into a set of container images. Next, A2C configures the suitable network ports and generates all needed definitions.

A2C provisions all cloud infrastructure and development pipelines needed to deploy your containerized applications into a production environment. It can help you modernize an existing application or standardize your deployment and operations with containers.

AWS offers A2C for free but bills you for any AWS resources the service creates.

Replatform and Synchronize Data with AWS Database Migration Service (DMS)

AWS Database Migration Service (DMS) can help you migrate an on-premises database to AWS. Particularly, this service can help you migrate an on-premises database to Amazon RDS or EC2. You can also leverage DMS to migrate your database from one platform to another. For example, from PostgreSQL to Oracle.

DMS can quickly and safely migrate and synchronize your databases to AWS while your on-premises source database maintains full operations. This process can help minimize downtime while you prepare to cut over.

DMS supports many commercial and open-source databases. AWS offers free use of DMS for six months when you migrate to Amazon Redshift, Amazon Aurora, Amazon DocumentDB, or Amazon DynamoDB.

Related content: Read our guides to

Application Migration to AWS with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP capacity can scale into the petabytes, and it supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP assists with lift and shift cloud migration.

NetApp BlueXP classification is a tool that can automatically discover, map, classify, and act on enterprise data. For companies planning migrations, these capabilities help to identify private data that need protection, and pinpoint duplicate and stale data so you can carry out clean migration.

Download our free eBook The NetApp Guide to Migrating Enterprise Workloads to the Cloud to learn more.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager