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.\n\nThe challenge now? For IT to design a modern, cloud-first infrastructure that is integrated, secure and software-driven, all while \u2018keeping the lights on\u2019 for the company\u2019s existing business processes.\n\n\n\nWhy organisations are turning to cloud-first\n\nOrganisations that have successfully implemented a modernised 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 optimisation.\n\nIt\u2019s 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.\n\nBarriers to cloud-first transformation\n\nWhile more organisations pivot toward a cloud-first strategy, they encounter a number roadblocks, and the two most common in APAC seem to be legacy technology and having an IT workforce with the outdated skills.\n\nLocked in legacy infrastructure, including data centres with long leases and applications that were never designed with cloud in mind may be perceived as too expensive to modernise.\n\nReskilling 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.\n\nSourcing new talent isn\u2019t 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.\n\nIdentifying your company\u2019s challenges\n\nEvery organisation 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.\n\n\u201cFuture-looking IT departments need to become a provider of services end-to-end, not just a provider of technology components, and that requires full stack engineering,\u201d he says.\n\n\u201cHow does an organisation get to that? It really depends on the starting point, which is different for every company depending on their unique issues \u2013 whether these are talent gaps, complex legacy assets, customised software, licensing issues or big CapEx investments in mainframes or data centres,\u201d he continues. \u201cEach organisation needs to define what its own barriers are and then chart its own path to innovation and value.\u201d\n\nThree key pillars to focus on\n\nAccenture\u2019s Duncan Eadie recommends companies focus on driving standardisation and consistency across three key pillars:\n\nThe stabilise, optimise, transform methodology\n\nAccenture regularly helps clients with building a cloud-first IT infrastructure strategy using a methodology that systematically breaks down each company\u2019s internal barriers, Duncan Eadie explains.\n\nA stabilised environment is one that operates without continuous fire drills to critical systems. It introduces automation to increase quality, reduces costs and builds the foundation for a multi-speed operating model capable of supporting a hybrid landscape.\n\nOn the other hand, an optimised environment gets the maximum horsepower out of the IT estate and people in order to power the business. It frees up funding and people\u2019s time to create a clear path to full stack innovation.\n\n\u201cThe transformed environment really kicks in when the business is ready to focus on tomorrow. We take the stabilised and optimised environment, which is the foundation and then expand the footprint into the cloud continuum, leveraging more advanced capabilities to help enable greater innovation,\u201d he says.\n\nAccording to Eadie, the timing of each step can be flexible and non-linear. For example, a business could realise the benefits of stability and optimisation 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 stabilised and optimised legacy applications into this model over time.\n\n\u201cThe journey path depends on key business requirements, priorities and the values they\u2019re trying to achieve,\u201d Eadie concludes.\n\nKnow more how you can elevate your infrastructure for cloud.