Simply put, a cloud center of excellence is a competency center where companies develop and improve new cloud solutions, enhance best practices and gain new efficiencies. In other words, a team responsible for developing best practices and governance mechanisms for the cloud. Which is often part of the key to a successful transformation.
But when should a company consider CCoE? The biggest challenge in moving to the cloud is rarely the technology. In contrast, humans can be like that. I often meet clients who say their move to the cloud has been stalled because employees don’t feel secure. The cloud is a new area that can be confusing. In addition to a good foundation and common communication from management, the CCoE is a good tool to transfer knowledge, allay fears, provide clear information and provide the skills needed for successful migration.
Time is a challenge
Lack of time is also a challenge for many companies. One thing that the companies I’ve met that have successfully transformed have in common is a clear common purpose anchored at the top. However, if it is difficult to achieve because daily tasks are time-consuming, CCoE will come to the rescue by focusing exclusively on migration.
Another challenge is the lack of road maps. At the beginning of the migration process, many technical and business decisions must be made. The CCoE has the expertise required for the initial steps of a solid foundation for your cloud journey. Among other things, it’s about creating what we at AWS call a safe landing zone.
Another question is is CCoE temporary or permanent? Even if it starts as a temporary team, the goal is to spread cloud expertise to the entire IT organization. Eventually, most of the team will have competency, and the competency center will gradually integrate with the rest of the organization. What you definitely want to avoid is creating a permanent silo of cloud-related tasks.
There are several types of IT management, or governance as we like to call it. One of them is managing investments, priorities, expenditures and monitoring projects – which are not the responsibility of the CoE. In turn, they play a key role in managing compliance, standards and security. At the same time, it is important to note that most governance in the cloud should be automated and serve as an enabler for everyone who uses the cloud.
Digital transformations require coordination at the highest level of the organization. This is not about cloud migration per se, but rather about the broader transformation that involves reinventing the business as a digital company and making cultural changes across the organization – which is not a CCoE responsibility as it requires senior management involvement. This should therefore be an informal administrative mechanism.
Many companies struggle to get started with their migration to the cloud, which is often because the process is restricted by lengthy analysis phases that are necessary at startup. It is true that larger, more complex migrations will often rely on the PMO, but we recommend keeping it separate from the CCoE – primarily for cultural reasons. The CCoE should act as a facilitator and enabler – not a controller.
A simple beginning gives a good guide
At AWS, we advise customers to start quickly and solve analysis while “dipping their toes in the water” for the first time. It should be a simple and less critical application, which nonetheless provides management and the organization with tangible proof of the benefits of cloud migration. This experience is the first step in forming the framework for what will later become the full competency team.
As knowledge about the cloud increases, one can begin to answer the most important question. Why go to the cloud and what needs to be achieved? There can be many driving factors, such as cost savings and efficiency. But the underlying principle must also be that value must be delivered to customers – faster and at an increasing pace. Based on this, the Competence Center can develop a roadmap and action plan with short- and long-term goals, in addition to identifying the necessary resources.
In other words, CCoE is a powerful tool for overcoming common challenges related to moving to the cloud. Remember that the function will gradually integrate into the broader IT organization, think pragmatically and focus on the challenges that need to be solved. CCoE can be the key to success in the cloud and in the digital age.
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