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Cloud Centre Of Excellence: What Is It - And Do You Need One?

Friday 19 May, 2023

As organisations progress with their Cloud journey, unforeseen challenges can spring up at any point, including scope changes and other impacts of Cloud such as vendor management or security.

A great way to deal with these unpredictable challenges and to establish robust governance around organisations' use of cloud is to set up a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCOE). The CCOE can flexibly, and rapidly, make decisions as well as a clear focal point for all cloud thinking and planning.

In this blog, our experts look at how a CCOE works and how you can tell if you need to set one up.

What Is A Cloud Centre Of Excellence?

A CCOE is a cross-functional team responsible for driving the migration to cloud. They are responsible for ensuring the cloud strategy is executed in a way that allows for flexibility but still maintains good practice and meets regulatory and security standards. The role of the CCOE typically includes:

1. Community: using effective comms to share best practices, training opportunities, maintain and publicise a knowledge base and generally keep teams motivated about the cloud.
2. Brokerage: focus on the sourcing of services (working closely with architects from CCOE), procurement of these services and negotiating contracts.
3. Governance: creation of policies, tools and processes to manage the cloud migration and minimise risk as well as owning and tracking the benefits / business case.


What Are The Best Practices To Set One Up?

To help you get started with your own cloud centre of excellence and ensure you have a great outcome, our experts at Coeus offer these best practice tips:

1. Treat your cloud like your product
View your application team leaders as your customers; you want to drive enablement and resulting efficiencies, not control their every move. By trusting your IT leaders to handle the development and operations they are charged with, you can avoid any innovation bottlenecks or progress delays.

2. Build a cross-organizational cloud culture into everything you do
CCOEs necessarily reach every touchpoint of an organization, making it important to have representatives from different departments on your CCOE team. Also critical to your success is to build in cross-organizational communications protocols for requesting and gaining CCOE support for initiatives.
3. Embrace change
All of it—enterprise-wide change management, change of applications, change of IT systems, change of business direction. View change management as essential to cloud business transformation efforts. Always prepare your CCOE structure for potential migration at scale, adjusting for your organization’s growing and changing needs throughout the company’s cloud journey.
4. Create reliable, reusable frameworks for every function of the CCOE organization
IT leaders can save their teams significant time and energy by setting up reusable policies and frameworks in their CCOE. This ensures top-of-the-line consistency on important actions like setting up strong security frameworks, establishing data governance policies (i.e., regulated data), and even managing cloud bills and subscriptions. At a minimum, CCOE standards and templates should address cloud architecture and design planning, project and cost management functions, and business or product owner engagement. These frameworks should be reliable, results-oriented, and experimentation-driven.
5. Put the right people on your team
Your CCOE needs to be fast, agile, and able to lead your business from the start. A successful CCOE generally can ramp up over a long period of time but core elements; of the CCOE organization need to be in place at the start to achieve maximum impact both internally and externally. Knowing this, it’s critical for your cloud organization to be staffed by key business leaders and experts with specific technical skills and functions in all facets of the business, including those in leadership, operations, infrastructure, security and applications positions.

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6. Evolve the structure of the CCOE team as the business evolves
Like any business, yours will grow or evolve over time, and your IT needs for business opportunities will change. Make sure you have a committed but agile team structure that can adjust roles, skills, and scope of work as your business and market changes.

7. Promote cross-organizational learning and maturity for the cloud journeyAn effective cloud centre of excellence has clear goals and lines of accountability for cloud planning, management, usage, and spend. The team behind the cloud centre of excellence needs to identify long-term opportunities for cloud activities beyond IaaS (i.e., for application migration and rationalization and cloud-native PaaS, SaaS, DR/BCP, security, etc.) and create a comprehensive application migration strategy. The team will also continually adjust and improve cloud migration templates and best practices for consistency and efficiency.

Do You Really Need A CCOE - And To What Extent?

Many organisations have already implemented a CCOE but that doesn’t mean all organisations would benefit from setting one up in the near term. We would suggest that there are 3 key questions to ask to understand whether any organisation would benefit:

1. Where is the organisation on the path to cloud? Organisations very early in this journey may benefit from agreeing and socialising a cloud strategy before a CCOE will provide value. Organisations who already have very mature cloud usage will need to compare a CCOE capability to their existing governance, planning and sourcing arrangements to understand if there is any additional value or efficiency to be added.

2. How mature is the IT governance capability within the organisation? Any CCOE needs to sit within an agreed and understood governance model. Organisations that do not have this may find that the CCOE is not able to deliver value due to lack of support or lack of influence. Additionally, organisations may find that exec support for setting up a CCOE, or for overall migration, is difficult to generate if IT / technology is not well understood across the organisation.
3. Are the skills available to deliver a CCOE already within the organisation, or easy to acquire?
The skills required to manage a set of cloud services are not the same as the skills needed to deliver traditional / on-premise services. Organisations are starting to find that a skills shortage across all elements of cloud is impacting their ability to strategise and then migrate. Organisations should have a good level of confidence that they have access to suitable skills to both run the CCOE and to deliver cloud.

There are many upsides to building your own CCOE, but it needs to be well supported and well planned to ensure that it is able to deliver to expectations. As with any specialist capability, there is the potential to cause damage to the IT ‘brand’ if it is not delivered well. Our recommendation is that organisations should assess the questions above at the minimum to decide if now is when it makes the most sense to launch CCOE.

As organisations continue to rely on the cloud to aid digital transformation efforts, having a Cloud Centre of Excellence to plan and govern cloud migration efforts and offer a shared roadmap for all future development and operations has the power to make the organisation more efficient, more flexible and more able to respond to external influences.

For further Coeus advice around the Cloud Journey, view here