Most companies go through a set of phases in their Microsoft cloud journey. They start with experimenting with the cloud for rapid application development. A single subscription is manually created in the Azure portal, and a set of services is quickly deployed from the portal to serve business and the developers’ needs. It is even not uncommon in this phase for the business or for the developers to use their own credit card to create this single subscription. The main goal in this phase is to serve business needs quickly, creating small proofs of concept, or avoiding the lengthy and time-consuming deployment strategies of bigger organizations.
In the next phase, the IT department starts taking the first steps into the cloud and creating additional subscriptions mostly targeted to the different departments in the organization. They will introduce centralized deployments and start thinking about security and compliance in the cloud.
In the third phase, the organization embraces the cloud on a larger scale. Senior management has decided to transform IT and shift to a cloud-first approach. Applications and data centers need to be migrated, hybrid environments need to be created, and all new applications need to be cloud native. This is the moment that most organizations realize they need a proper governance model and strategy.
As cloud environments are managed on a large scale, there is a need for a solid architecture around structuring subscriptions, networking, databases, applications, security and compliance regulations, and so on. Successfully managing a cloud platform on a large scale requires ownership in the organization. It also requires a centralized entity to maintain best practices, onboard the cloud customers, and make sure that all services are secure and compliant by default.
When they start implementing these technical aspects on a large scale and embedding them into the organization, people start to realize that this also involves a significant organizational and cultural change. This is where a Cloud Center of Excellence comes in.
What does a Cloud Center of Excellence do?
A Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) is used to bring a diverse and knowledgeable group of experts from across the organization together to develop cloud best practices for the rest of the organization to follow. The CCoE has a support function to increase productivity throughout the organization and at the same time maintain a consistent and secure cloud platform. It is based on Microsoft agile practices and a delivery model that provides a programmatic approach to implement, manage, and operate the Microsoft Azure platform for onboarding projects and Azure workloads effectively.
A CCoE model, requires collaboration between:
- Cloud adoption
- Cloud strategy
- Cloud governance
- Cloud platform
- Cloud automation
When these aspects are addressed, the participants can accelerate innovation and migration while reducing the overall costs of change and increasing business agility. When implemented successfully, a CCoE will create a significant cultural shift in IT as well. Without the CCoE model, IT tends to focus on providing control and central responsibility. A successful CCoE model provides focus on freedom and delegated responsibility. This works best in a technology strategy with a self-service model that allows business units to make their own decisions. The CCoE provides a set of guidelines and established and repeatable controls, used by the business.
Key responsibilities of a Cloud Center of Excellence
The primary goal of the CCoE team is to accelerate cloud adoption through cloud native and hybrid solutions. The CCoE has the following objectives:
- Build a modern IT organization by capturing and implementing business requirements using agile approaches
- Build reusable deployment packages that fully align with security, compliance, and service management policies
- Maintain a functional Azure platform in alignment with operational procedures
- Review and approve the use of cloud-native tools
- Over time, standardize and automate commonly needed platform components and solutions
The Cloud Center of Excellence team
The CCoE team ideally consists of 3–5 people with a variety of IT backgrounds. This will bring a broad perspective and balanced set of knowledge. It should ideally include people who already have cloud experience and day-to-day roles, such as:
- IT/Operations/IT financial manager
- Solution/Infrastructure Architect
- Application developer
- Network engineer
- Database administrator
- Systems administrator
Excellent way to start your cloud journey
This blog will help organizations who are going through the different phases in their cloud journey and starting to transform their IT department to be ready for innovation, speed, and control. The Cloud Center of Excellence is an ideal model to accelerate your cloud adoption program.
At Capgemini, we have a lot of experience, use cases, and best practices in implementing IT transformations and Cloud Centers of Excellence for our enterprise customers. To find out more about our experiences and what a CCoE can do for your organization, you can contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter.
You can also read my other articles here.