Every CIO is acutely aware that their IT infrastructure now underpins the success of the business. Scalable, integrated compute, network, and data platforms are the prerequisites to delivering exceptional experiences for customers and staff. The challenge now? For IT to design a modern, cloud-first infrastructure that is integrated, secure and software-driven, all while ‘keeping the lights on’ for the company’s existing business processes.
Why organizations are turning into cloud-first
Organizations that have successfully implemented a modernized cloud infrastructure are now reaping the benefits across the human, physical, and digital domains of the workplace. Having modern infrastructure unshackles staff from the cumbersome limitations of legacy platforms and enables a focus on continuous, rapid innovation, automation, and optimization.
It’s no longer enough to simply keep pace with competitors; CEOs are looking to use digital technology to pull ahead of their peers, by delivering frictionless omni-channel services and intelligent business processes that can adapt quickly to changing conditions.
Barriers to cloud-first transformation
As more organizations pivot toward a cloud-first strategy, they encounter a number of roadblocks, and the two most common in APAC seem to be legacy technology and having an IT workforce with the outdated skills.
Locked in legacy infrastructure, including data centers with long leases and applications that were never designed with cloud in mind may be perceived as too expensive to modernise.
Reskilling existing staff originally hired for expertise in data centres, mainframes and traditional networks is often not practical while also having to keep the lights on.
Sourcing new talent isn’t necessarily an easy answer either. A talent shortage across the Asia Pacific region means many companies are finding it hard to attract and retain cloud-skilled team members.
Identifying your company’s challenges
Every organization will have a different starting point and challenges to navigate at the beginning of their cloud migration journey, comments Duncan Eadie, Cloud, Infrastructure & Engineering Lead at Accenture Asia Pacific and Africa.
“Future-looking IT departments need to become a provider of end-to-end services, not just a provider of technology components, and that requires full stack engineering,” he says.
“How does an organization get to that? It really depends on the starting point, which is different for each company depending on their unique issues – whether these are talent gaps, complex legacy assets, customized software, licensing issues or big CapEx investments in mainframes or data centers,” he continues. “Each organization needs to define what its own barriers are and then chart its own path to innovation and value.”
Three key pillars to focus on
Accenture’s Duncan Eadie recommends companies focus on driving standardisation and consistency across three key pillars:
Cloud-native tech: build a strategy that, where practical, uses a similar technology (eg containers) across the entire cloud environment for ease of manageability.
Ensure the infrastructure can be anywhere: The business will expect apps that run faster, are more personalized, and can be when and where the business needs. Consider consumption/subscription-based services that can quickly scale up or down to align with business requirements.
Autonomous operations: Most importantly, as the IT environment becomes more diverse, the organization won’t be able to afford to manage each cloud separately. Work towards a single cloud control pane for more consistent scaling, security, and governance.
The stabilize, optimize, transform methodology
Accenture regularly helps clients with building a cloud-first IT infrastructure strategy using a methodology that systematically breaks down each company’s internal barriers, Duncan Eadie explains.
A stabilized environment is one that operates without continuous fire drills to critical systems. Its automation to increase quality, introduces reduces costs and builds the foundation for a multi-speed operating model capable of supporting a hybrid landscape.
On the other hand, an optimized environment gets the maximum horsepower out of the IT estate and people in order to power the business. It frees up funding and people’s time to create a clear path to full stack innovation.
“The transformed environment really kicks in when the business is ready to focus on tomorrow. We take the stabilized and optimized environment, which is the foundation and then expand the footprint into the cloud continuum, leveraging more advanced capabilities to help enable greater innovation,” he says.
According to Eadie, the timing of each step can be flexible and non-linear. For example, a business could realize the benefits of stability and optimization today, and then kickstart a transformation at a future time of its choosing. Or it could build a completely new innovation environment that goes live quickly, and then gradually migrate stabilized and optimized legacy applications into this model over time.
“The journey path depends on key business requirements, priorities and the values they’re trying to achieve,” Eadie concludes.
Know more how you can elevate your infrastructure for cloud.