A cloud center of excellence is the best-practice approach to drive cloud-enabled transformation.
To ensure cloud adoption success, organizations must have the right skills and structure in place. The optimal way to achieve this is by setting up a centralized cloud center of excellence (CCOE). A CCOE is a centralized governance function for the organization and acts in a consultative role for central IT, business-unit IT and cloud service consumers in the business. A CCOE is key to driving cloud-enabled IT transformation.
The CCOE is an enterprise architecture function. Its responsibilities include setting cloud policy, guiding provider selection, and assisting with solution architecture and workload placement, with the goals of improving outcomes and managing risks. The CCOE doesn’t have day-to-day operational responsibilities, nor is it a project management organization. This function should not be outsourced. The CCOE should oversee the organization’s cloud computing practices and actively solicit contributions from across the business.
Ask the right questions to set up a CCOE framework
Cloud computing is marketed as easy to adopt, but the reality of adoption is more complex. According to Lydia Leong, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner, “Cloud computing still requires governance to protect the business and promote effective use.” The challenge of governing cloud services, however, is that these services are not necessarily under the CIO’s control, and a significant percentage of IT spending on cloud services in businesses is also outside the CIO’s domain. Business priorities, rather than IT priorities, dominate decision making, and IT cannot dictate the solution. Yet CIOs are often held accountable for the portfolio of services that they don’t directly control.
IT organizations often ask similar questions:
● How do we develop and enforce organization-wide cloud computing policies in a way that allows us to be flexible, without exposing us to unacceptable levels of organizational risk?
● How do we guide our internal users in selecting the right cloud providers to find the best fit and manage vendor-related risk?
● How do we manage and mitigate security and regulatory compliance risks while ensuring confidentiality, integrity and availability?
● How do we govern our costs and forecast our future costs?
● How do we get “smarter about cloud” and make our organization aware of best practices, and keep up with the rate of change introduced by our providers?
● How can we drive cloud-enabled transformation across the business and help our stakeholders think through the business possibilities enabled by cloud?
A CCOE provides central IT with a way to express the CIO’s cloud strategy and provide governance through policies and cloud management tools, as well as gather and disseminate cloud best practices. This should be the primary vehicle for leading and governing cloud adoption across all services models — infrastructure, platform and software as a service (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS). Led by the organization's lead cloud architect, the CCOE has three core pillars:
● Governance: Create policies in collaboration with a cross-functional team and select governance tools to provide financial and risk management.
● Brokerage: Assist users in selecting cloud providers, architect the cloud solution(s) and collaborate with the sourcing team for contract negotiation and vendor management.
● Community: Raise the level of cloud knowledge in the organization and capture and disseminate best practices through a knowledge base, source code repository, training events, outreach throughout the organization, and more.
The creation of two additional entities can help foster successful cloud adoption in concert with the CCOE. A cross-functional cloud computing advisory council can help shape and enforce cloud-related policies and assist in driving organizational change. And cloud communities of practice that bring together employees with an interest and involvement in cloud computing adoption can share knowledge and collaborate informally.