Govern your cloud using a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE)

Danny Nicholson, Principal Cloud Specialist - Claranet

The pace of adopting cloud is accelerating, as the maturity and benefits of moving to cloud increase. Successful transitions need careful preparation. Any cloud strategy (if in place), should align with the business strategy, and dovetail with with security and data centre strategies. It should also consider how the business will transform as a result of this new technology landscape.   

Without widespread buy-in, the responsibility for generating enthusiasm and momentum for cloud adoption rests with executive sponsors. This top-down approach can be slow to scale and fail to embrace the inherent democratisation of IT resources that cloud computing offers. 

Claranet recommends avoiding potential pitfalls by bringing together a cross functional team defined as 'The Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCOE)'. This is a small, cross-functional team that understands cloud technologies but most importantly can align these to the business' strategies and goals. They should also provide leadership and best practices for a move to the cloud.  Thus, making it easier to foster organic engagement, and to create the infrastructure, governance and frameworks necessary to become a cloud-first, cloud smart business.

Leading a CCOE can be a part-time role depending on the scale and priority given to the use of cloud within an organisation.  Typically, this role is filled by the Enterprise Architect or Cloud Architect, acting with delegated authority from the CIO.  This lead role evangelises the use of cloud and galvanises the CCOE team to 'spread the 'word' of cloud and its adoption.  

Key roles within a Cloud COE:  

  • Lead - Enterprise Architect (EA)  
  • Cloud and Security Architect (These can be both internal employees and from a cloud service providers)  
  • Finance and Procurement functions  
  • Project Managers and Scrum Masters  
  • Change Managers or Change Agents  
  • Development and Operations leads  
  • Leads or Heads of Support or Service functions  

The structure and scope of the CCOE will be driven by the needs, priorities, and capabilities of the business.  Each CCOE will look different at every organisation, but how should a CCOE behaves and the qualities must the team exhibits should be ubiquitous. 

Qualities of a successful Cloud COE:  A successful CCOE drives cloud adoption and transformation and must be empowered and supported by executive sponsors. Total buy-in should come from across the C-suite and must span all business domains, not just the IT department.  What the team does and is responsible for should also be universal.  

Responsibilities of a Cloud COE: At a high level, the team shapes and supports the direction of the organisation across these five domains, but several activities and tasks underpin these efforts.  These will differ from business to business and will be dependent on the 'cloud maturity ' level', the expertise in cloud technologies internally, and the ambition of the organisational culture to be truly digital. 

If you want to know more about how to build a Cloud COE please talk to Claranet about its cloud governance services.

Key takeaways

As an example, within the Governance domain COE may need to: 

  • Develop an agile governance management framework for the design, build and release phases of cloud technologies or features 
  • Own and enhance cloud architecture frameworks 
  • Design cloud processes 

The Cloud Centre of Excellence are the cloud champions within an organisation:   

  • Excite the organisation about the benefits of moving to cloud  
  • Help drive the journey to cloud 
  • Accelerate large scale projects, and small scale initiatives; ensure any investment in cloud is aligned to the overall business strategy 
  • Measure the success of cloud adoption through business outcomes and not typical technology metrics