Cloud Center Of Excellence: What, Why, How, Tips
By Kamal Jacob
Whether a small start-up company or leading enterprises, the main goal is to have a flexible, cheap and innovative business. Moving to the cloud is one of the drivers to reach this goal.
But, for many of them, the rapid pace of change is the toughest part of the cloud journey and they continue to be anchored by the weight of their own internal process and platforms. And for others, short term incentive structures have delayed them from investing in the longer-term strategic levers available from public cloud services.
Such ‘gravitational forces’ are preventing enterprises from gaining momentum and advantage in the cloud.
The only way to achieve the velocity required to escape from this gravitational pull is to adopt a new approach named “Cloud Center of Excellence (Cloud CoE)” that manage the cloud migration process and ensure organization-wide adoption of cloud-focused best practices.
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What is a Cloud Center of Excellence?
Cloud CoE or CCoE is a team of diverse and knowledgeable experts, from across the organization, whose task is to govern the cloud infrastructure as well as developing cloud-focused best practices for the rest of the organization to follow.
According to Cloud Management Report, “A Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) is a cross-functional team of people responsible for developing and managing the cloud strategy, governance, and best practices that the rest of the organization can leverage to transform the business using the cloud. The CCoE leads the organization as a whole in cloud adoption, migration, and operations. It may also be called a Cloud Competency Center, Cloud Capability Center, or Cloud Knowledge Center.”
In an organization, the Cloud CoE ensure that everyone embraces not only cloud technology but a culture of the cloud.
Why you need a Cloud Center of Excellence?
Enterprises start moving to the cloud because a certain group of people within the organization thinks that this is the right thing to do but, what if it’s not across the entire organization?
Cloud Center of Excellence makes sure that everybody in the organization is on-board with cloud transformation. After all, this is a transformation of ‘people’ in the organization.
Well, to sum up, the key to the need for CCoE is as follows:
a) Across the whole organization, enabling accelerated and sustainable adoption of the cloud.
b) While reducing the risk, maximizing the ability to realize the benefits of moving to the cloud.
So, how does an organization build a cross-functional team of people responsible for ensuring a successful cloud transformation? Come, let’s see.
How to establish a Cloud Center of Excellence?
To establish a Cloud Center of Excellence in any organization, here are the 5 best practices:
1. Forming the right kind of team
As the demand for the cloud in an organization expands and contracts, the people that makeup CCoE will change but the core roles will remain constant. These core roles should always be staffed because the cloud has the potential to touch every business process, LOB (line of business), data set and people across the entire enterprise.
According to Elizabeth Boudreau, an executive adviser at AWS the CCoE should include people from:
a) Leadership: CCoE should have a person of Vice President (VP) or equivalent rank that can help in establishing and maintaining the group. Moreover, CCoE needs to work as a governing body and the person from leadership can provide it.
b) Operations: In the cloud transformation journey, it’s very necessary to understand the impact on workflows, processes, and procedures. And, no one rather than the person from operations can give you better advice on this.
c) Infrastructure: The person from infrastructure, can tell CCoE team about which infrastructure is currently being used to run which application. This will eventually help the team to figure out which cloud model will work for each scenario i.e. IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service), hybrid, private, and/or Public.
d) Security: While moving to the cloud, one of the major concerns of organizations is security. That's why, from the beginning, cybersecurity should be baked into the cloud migration strategy. A person from security can help the CCoE team to achieve this.
e) Applications: The key to the success of cloud migration depends upon how CCoE overcome the concerns and challenges faced by application developers. For that reason, an application developer should be there in the team.
2. Defining CCoE charter:
After forming the right kind of team, the next best practice is to define a CCoE charter that should specify goals, operating principles, key roles, and responsibilities for the group.
3. Setting the deployment plan:
It is always good to set a deployment plan because it helps CCoE to define how cloud solutions will be deployed in the organization. Furthermore, it helps to build solutions with respect to sprint cycles, team members, release cycles, and other relevant factors.
4. Empowering the team
Some believe that the cloud is a magic bullet, but is it possible to create a successful cloud transformation without a motivated and empowered team?
The team plays an important role in successful cloud transformation of an organization because they know the business, applications, what works well and what needs to be improved. That’s why CCoE teams should weave into others to share their skills and insights to help each team, as well as the entire organization collectively, succeed on the journey to the cloud.
However, empowerment may have a different meaning to each team, but by empowering the team, we can take this step further by having the right views and data analysis catered to specific roles.
5. Establishing what success looks like
The organizations, going into cloud migration, are aiming at cost savings, increase efficiency, flexibility and, margins.
But, with so many variables to this equation, how CCoE can establish baselines and measure success?
The answer to this question is to set and measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Seeing the usage, infrastructure cost, and performance on a regular basis will give a better indication of what needs to be done to reach the goal we have yet to accomplish.
Two key KPIs to consider for cloud migration are-
a) Measuring infrastructure costs per unit (CPU, storage, etc.)
b) The Cost of a Business transaction (cost of processing an online purchase transaction, cost for processing an ad request and so on)
Tips to succeed with a Cloud Center of Excellence?
Hope you understood how important the success of CCoE for an organization that is seeking to move to the cloud. Here are a few important tips in order to succeed with a CCoE:
a) Start with a small team
The Cloud Center of Excellence founding team should start with a small number of members say 3 to 5. Experimentation-driven, bold, result-oriented, customer-focused are some of the important traits the members should have.
b) Narrow down the initial focus
An organization usually build CCoE with the larger vision of cloud transformation but to be successful in their mission it is necessary to narrow the initial focus of CCoE to deliver a single, relatively small but important project successfully. This will not only allow the CCoE team to showcase their work to the rest of the organization but will also open a dialogue around 'what's possible' rather than 'what's unknown'.
c) Clear vision and message are equally needed from technology leadership
As the organization needs to have a grassroots adoption for cloud technology, there should be a clear message to the rest of the organization, from CCoE leadership, about the challenges the organization is facing and what the plan of action is to address those challenges.
d) Engage with the rest of the organization
Try to engage with the rest of the organization by doing workshops, training sessions and showcase them case studies of successful cloud projects. It will help the ‘people’ of the organization to be part of this cloud transition.
e) Be careful while scaling the CCoE’s function
You should be careful while scaling the CCoE’s function across the rest of the organization because after delivering few initial projects successfully, the rest of the organization will become eager to leverage the services and expertise of the CCoE for their specific needs and problems.
The Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) help foster a cloud culture by bringing in motivated and empowered team members from across the organization. While ensuring centralized governance to protect the business, efficiency, and flexibility, it also finds the subtle balance of giving departments and line of business (LOBs) the freedom to take advantage of the cloud transition. Looking up to building a career in this cloud-enabled world? Explore our PG Certificate Program in Cloud Computing to upskill your career in Cloud Computing.