In the past few years, cloud computing has become a dominant trend in enterprise IT. The benefits of moving to the cloud are clear: lower costs, increased flexibility, and improved scalability. But as more companies shift their infrastructure to a public cloud like AWS or Azure, they face an often-overlooked challenge: How do they transform an enterprise from a typical on-premises business to a cloud-native enterprise focused on the cloud?

The Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) is an organizational entity that has emerged as a driving force for accelerating cloud-native transformations. As cloud-based applications become ubiquitous and cloud adoption rates continue to rise, CCoEs are becoming more and more prevalent in many modern organizations. But what does a cloud center of excellence look like? How does it fit in with modern information technology institutions? How can it help transform your organization?

There are as many ways to create a CCoE as there are ways to create an IT department. At its core, CCoE is an organizational structure designed to accelerate the adoption of cloud products, cloud principles, and a cloud mindset across the enterprise. In short, CCoE helps the organization transform into a cloud-native enterprise.

How exactly does CCoE help propel an organization to cloud success? Here are six ways the Cloud Center of Excellence can help your organization prepare for and thrive on its cloud journey.

CCoE provides best practices and provides an example for the organization to follow.

The purpose of CCoE is to serve as a beacon to business units and other project teams. CCoE is an example of how to work in a cloud-based world with cloud-native tools. It is responsible for establishing, clarifying, advocating and documenting best practices that the rest of the organization must follow. As an organization-wide standard, it directs the organization in the right direction and helps prevent repetition of some common mistakes and pitfalls by every group in the organisation.

As the owner of best practices and their requirements, CCoE engages the various groups within the organization and drives the adoption of these best practices. Leading by example and serving as respected leaders is critical to the success of the cloud.

Beyond cloud-specific operations, CCoE provides best practices in a variety of related areas, including providing standardized coding practices and using specific development methodologies and tools. This includes the use of microservices architectures, CI/CD, and devops practices. It is important that best practices be adopted by someone who is able to enforce that adoption across the entire organization, and CCoE can provide that leadership.

CCoE provides training for your teams.

To be successful in the cloud, your teams must be knowledgeable and experienced in all aspects of using cloud services. This means training in the cloud. But what training does your organization require? The CCoE is responsible for defining training requirements and facilitating training throughout the organization. These exercises can be created and managed by CCoE team members who evaluate cloud-related products, services, and systems. Or they may be third-party training programs that CCoE has evaluated and approved.

However, as training is implemented, CCoE is responsible for defining cloud training requirements for all groups within the organization and figuring out how to meet those requirements.

CCoE creates tools and standards for the organization.

The pressing problem for any organization going through a major technological transformation is how to create the tools and implement the standards needed to thrive in its new reality? Cloud-centric transformation is no exception.

CCoE should provide the essential tools and standards for working in the cloud in clear and consistent ways. It’s a tough job. How do you do deployments for cloud services? What OS image do you use on your cloud servers? How do you create tools that you can replicate for development, implementation, and testing environments? And for production environments?

What settings do development engineers need to build and deploy cloud services? How do you tag resources so you know who’s using them? How do you determine what resources should be implemented? And who makes those decisions?

Can You Use This Brand New Cloud Service? What are the appropriate service settings? Should I use this feature or ability of the service? How to deploy the service in a standard way across the organization? How do you handle monitoring, logging, and analytics from cloud services?

How do you configure security settings in the cloud to meet the needs of your organization’s security team and business needs? How do you coordinate and integrate cloud-related changes with other company technology initiatives, such as devops?

Having a central group of experts deciding these questions generates efficiency and avoids chaos. Standard tools and settings facilitate the cloud efforts of other groups in the organization, as well as ensuring appropriate and consistent practices. By leading the development of these tools and standards, CCoE improves overall cloud enablement and ensures consistent behaviors and practices across the enterprise.

CCoE provides substantive expertise to senior management.

When an organization undergoes a cloud transformation, it often faces difficult discussions at the organizational level. Top management needs information and experience in order to take these decisions. This expertise comes from the experience of CCoE. The CCoE team consists of subject matter experts (SMEs) who can provide expert guidance and direction on cloud practices. By sharing their expertise with senior management, CCoE helps foster widespread cloud adoption and a cloud-focused mindset across the entire enterprise.

CCoE informs the creation or purchase and other cloud decisions.

An organization needs to make many decisions about which cloud capabilities to use, which cloud providers to use, and how to use them. Should we build that tool we need, or should we bring in a third-party equivalent? These decisions must be made by individuals who are experts in the cloud as well as experts in the organization’s internal needs and applications. The CCoE, with the appropriate expertise in both areas, serves as the ideal group for making those decisions. CCoE provides expert decisions on which vendors to engage, which services to enable, and which capabilities to take advantage of.

It is important to establish an organizational structure early in any cloud transformation, in order to prevent decision paralysis and to ensure that decisions and business objectives are aligned.

CCoE manages external cloud relationships.

A cloud-focused organization will have many external cloud partners, providers, vendors, and other third parties with which to coordinate. The CCoE is a natural place to coordinate these relationships.

Whether they are the primary contact for vendors, attend meetings with partners, or support a company’s cloud advancement with partners and customers, CCoE’s unique combination of cloud and enterprise knowledge provides the expertise needed to manage these relationships.

Having a central team controlling these relationships ensures that there is always someone within your organization who knows how these external vendors operate, what they offer, and when to use them.

So how does CCoE fit into the modern IT enterprise? In most cases, the CCoE reports to either the CIO or the head of the engineering department. This allows it to work closely with other key parts of the organization, such as application development teams, operations teams, and the security team. As the central unit responsible for all things cloud, CCoE helps ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.

A cloud center of excellence can be a very valuable asset to an organization looking to move to the cloud. While any organization can benefit from this structure, the larger the organization and the more significant the cloud transformation, the more benefits CCoE can bring. CCoE can help your organization through the network of complexity involved in any cloud transformation.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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