How to create a cloud centre of excellence: A guide
You may have heard that creating a cloud centre of excellence (CCoE) is formative in your cloud strategy, resulting in a huge difference in the value of cloud migration for an organisation. Here’s how to plan it out for success.
What is a cloud centre of excellence?
In the simplest terms, a CCoE is a team of experts, either in-house or external, who have the knowledge, experience and skills to help you plan and move to the cloud. In reality, in order for your CCoE to be successful, it must be run by the people who are charged with implementing a fundamental shift in the way that your company thinks and works.
This change needs to happen across the whole organisation, and as such, it must be a cross-functional team of people. They need to understand how to develop and manage cloud strategy, governance and best practices, but also have business as well as technical skills, security know-how, product knowledge, and much more.
It’s all about the team: Avoiding silos for cloud adoption
In many organisations, there is a varied understanding and use of cloud technologies. In some cases, there might even be different infrastructures used in different areas of the business. While cloud adoption is growing year on year, it’s often led by key individual decision-makers or departments, and the rest of the company is left unsure how to proceed, or even why, creating uneven cloud use or strategy, even within the same enterprise.
While technology is a huge part of cloud adoption, people are what the success of your cloud strategy will ultimately hinge upon. If your business cannot get employees at every level on board and understanding what it takes for business transformation, you may have lost before you’ve begun. A CCoE makes sure that cloud adoption isn’t siloed and reserved for one-off projects by enthusiastic or forward-thinking departments, instead providing a strategy and path for cloud adoption company-wide.
What is a CCoE responsible for?
Planning to move to the cloud is not the same as the move itself, or embracing change and innovation once you’re there. You can start small, but remember that your needs will change as your cloud roadmap moves from planning to migration and growth. Technology and responsibilities can and will shift over time. As such, you should ensure that there is the ability to scale and to learn within and across your CCoE overall. As a starting point, think about four distinct cross-functional roles that need to be filled:
- Structure and operations: What operations are you focusing on, and how can you ensure consistency across departments in the organisation? Which teams should you be interacting with, and how can you pull departments on board and make sure you’re on the same page? As you interact with various parts of the company, these members of the CCoE will identify limitations, such as potential security challenges and opportunities, for example, valuable places to implement CD/CI pipelines
- Evaluation: Your CCoE team needs to stay ahead of the technical curve. Cloud technology is a fast-paced world, and cross-functional experts will stay on top of new services or feature enhancements, knowing how to implement these for your own business strategy. With this in place, your organisation begins to feel a culture of confidence, and an ability to lead rather than follow when it comes to cloud strategy
- Governance: Security and governance need to be at the center of everything, implemented from day zero so that you can keep to DevOps practices and pipelines without being held back due to error or lack of understanding. Your CCoE should be setting the groundwork for an organisation as they move to the cloud. Keeping the policy and security requirements in place behind the scenes is an integral part of a CCoE
- Innovation: The right people for a CCoE will be risk-takers who are results-oriented. The cloud is no place for caution, it allows you to think and move fast, trying new things and iterating and monitoring, measuring and trying again. Smart thinkers who enable strategy and innovation are key, working across departments to understand the security and layers of the cloud and how to work with them instead of in spite of them
Who benefits from a CCoE?
When an organisation experiences consistency in approach and strategy, everyone benefits. Adoption and speed of cloud strategy are improved automatically when you use a “templatised” deployment, and have the right people in the right places for success.
A CCoE enables value at every level. All stakeholders know what’s expected of them, what they are responsible for and why, resulting in far less uncertainty or frustration. The leadership and IT teams now have a better understanding of the steps they need to take to meet their goals and a unified approach to onboarding new technologies, lessening the learning curve and the need for troubleshooting. The customers and end-users are now supported by innovation and best practices.
The principles to make this happen
Building the right team for a CCoE isn’t a simple task. Internally, you might find that you want to start building this essential part of your organisation, but you don’t have the knowledge of technology or best practices to make this happen. If that’s the case, an external advisor is essential to guide you in building your CCoE, a consultant that can support you in recruiting or training personnel to adequately represent teams across the whole organisation, and then become a partner as your cloud journey progresses. The added benefits include:
- Strategy: Cloud is not the end destination, but rather the enabler for organisational growth. With guidance, you can build a roadmap for success and long term change, understanding where to put your resources and budget, and how to govern your cloud adoption overall to make the most out of this innovation
- Experience: Tried and tested insight into the best practices of cloud adoption. Your CCoE team will have a partner with years of experience to support them internally, with advice and support every step of the way
- Know-how: A wide range of knowledge and skills, from security to product strategy. A cloud expert can highlight the gaps you need to be filled, and give accurate steps to follow so that you get it right the first time
However you build your cloud centre of excellence, it’s foundational for building a cloud strategy that is both sustainable and scalable across an organisation, maximising your ability to reduce risk, and see benefits from the cloud.