Time for a Cloud Center of Excellence

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In the coming years, double-digit growth rates are expected in terms of investments into the public cloud and IaaS. Many businesses will take the plunge in the foreseeable future or increase existing investments in the public cloud. But how do you, as a business, ensure that a migration to the public cloud runs smoothly and in a structured manner? The Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) more and more often appears to be the answer to this question. And rightly so.

Setting up a CCoE, a best practice for facilitating a successful cloud adoption, is in fact a must for companies that know that they need to make the transition to the public cloud, but don’t know how. The CCoE initially started as a technical framework, it is now growing into a control centre from which the IT department can implement, supervise and manage its cloud projects operationally. CCoE enables control, so that matters such as security, compliance, performance and cost control can be successfully managed. But where to start?

First steps

For successful adoption of the cloud, businesses must have a CCoE at the earliest possible stage to create internal support. A lot will change within a business, and support will determine the success of the cloud strategy, not only in terms of technology and skills but also in terms of culture change and community building. It is crucial to agree about the CCoE becoming a central body for making decisions, implementing the strategy, directing, setting policy and promoting best practices. A cloud architect would then have a key role in all of this.

Three pillars

Gartner distinguishes three important features of the Cloud Center of Excellence:

  1. Brokerage
    The CCoE acts as an internal cloud service broker. Therefore, the right people and resources must be deployed within the CCoE to support the business in choosing, integrating, and adapting cloud solutions. The CCoE provides knowledge and expertise on cloud provider solutions, standards and recommendations for the cloud architecture, and determines the processes for working with cloud providers within the business. In addition, the CCoE has knowledge of the wider cloud market and the solutions that may be of interest in the future, ensuring future-proof cloud adoption at all times.
  2. Governance
    Within the CCoE, governance plays a crucial role beyond simply ‘keeping control’ and managing costs. It is also about providing guidelines that advocate good practices and point out the risks, and guardrails to prevent things from going wrong, even if someone would intentionally make a mistake. The implementation of business-wide policies and associated measures are then important.
  3. Community
    The CCoE also plays an important role in supporting businesses in adopting the cloud and can ensure that there is more support within businesses for the journey to the cloud. For example, the CCoE is responsible for setting up a virtual community, the Cloud Community of Practice (CoP). By setting up a CCoE, a business ensures that knowledge can be shared, information is available centrally, and the right stakeholders are involved.

In recent years, a proliferation of applications and a ‘spaghetti architecture’ have emerged within many businesses. More and more businesses have switched to a more distributed development model and accept that ‘citizen developers’ are active. Due to a lack of governance, every department can build and use (cloud) applications to their heart’s content. As a result, cloud adoption within the IT business unit sometimes goes faster than the central IT department is prepared to support. The result: a total lack of central management of ad hoc cloud projects and a sharp increase in shadow IT.

Take back control

How can the IT department (re)take control? The business is currently crying out for a tool that allows for the central IT department of mid-sized enterprise organisations to implement the cloud strategy. The CCoE offers a solution. Within many businesses, the cloud journey has not been successful (yet). For example, after the migration, the environment ends up not being fully compliant, too expensive or unable to meet expectations with regard to flexibility and scalability. The CCoE is a tool that can also play a crucial role in meeting the requirements with regard to security, compliancy and costs.

The success of the CCoE ultimately depends on its mandate and the support it receives from the CIO. In addition, it is important that the guidelines provided by the CCoE are realistic with regard to the available resources and skills. It is about what is practically feasible, and not about what the ideal situation should be. Finally, the existence of the CCoE does not necessarily mean that the business will automatically come up with cloud projects.

The predicted growth rates of the public cloud show that many hands will be needed in the coming years to lighten the work on cloud migrations. The time has come to start setting up a CCoE. After all, developments are moving at lightning speed. Right now, businesses focus on the cloud migration itself. However, it is expected that in a number of years’ time there will be much more attention for low-code and data-related projects that will have to run within the cloud environment. The sooner a CCoE is set up, the better this changing situation can be anticipated. In this way, the IT department also takes control in the long term and prevents their cloud approach from remaining ad hoc in nature.

This is a contribution submitted by Mirco Wienen, CTO at Sentia. Through this link you will find more information about the possibilities of the company.