Moving to the cloud is essential for any business which is serious about future success.

But the question facing many leaders is: how do you actually go about it?

Chris Griggs is VP and general manager for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region at Seattle-based cloud firm Skytap.

A study it conducted with 451 Research among 450 director-level technology leaders in the US, UK and Canada found that in 2018 many organisations’ critical apps remain grounded rather than taking off as they would like.

“Businesses need look no further than industries like retail, transportation and media for proof that market dominance is increasingly determined by the ability to deliver value rapidly and cost-effectively through software,” he told BusinessCloud.

“Enterprises certainly see the benefit of the cloud but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is ready to migrate immediately.

“The main reason for this isn’t what you might think. It’s not because of technology – it’s a skills issue that is hindering companies.”

The research found that 67 per cent of enterprise tech leaders plan to migrate or modernise at least half their on-premises applications in the next 12-24 months.

Skytap

However it also flagged up that at least half of businesses lack the skills to manage their existing applications. A similar number also sees their inability to deliver new features as a current challenge.

Most enterprise businesses run on software built many years ago. These applications must often be redeveloped to work in the most popular clouds – a process that can cost millions and take years.

“Taking the right approach to app modernisation could make all the difference,” Griggs continued.

“Yet businesses are choosing the most difficult path to the cloud. And it’s the enterprises choosing the path of most resistance that are unintentionally creating a self-induced cloud skills gap.

“Enterprises can’t overlook the value in partnering with external experts who can both advise on the most efficient path to change and support the actual implementation of that pathway.

“Technology leaders must let go of the impulse for ‘big bang’ or ‘silver bullet’ change.

“Instead of starting over, identify a clear need and then start by using the skills and people you already have.”

Griggs advocates a process he calls IPA – Infrastructure, Process, Architecture.

“Application modernisation must be approached holistically, beginning with the infrastructure, progressing to development processes, and then addressing application architecture,” he said.

“The fastest, most cost-effective path to application modernisation is an incremental approach that empowers teams to tackle seemingly insurmountable challenges one step at a time.

“By using the IPA approach to modernisation, teams are able to evolve at the pace and stage that’s right for their business.”