Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) and how to organize it | HCLTech

Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) and how to organize it

January 24, 2023
Nischal Tiwari


Associate Vice President, Microsoft Business unit
January 24, 2023

Changing consumer demands, rapidly evolving business models, and new technologies have given rise to significant shifts in the business landscape. To remain competitive, organizations must be innovative, adaptive, and responsive, all while seeking lower costs. Cloud has proved to be a critical factor in enabling this transformation.

Cloud centre of excellence teams empowers transformation. While some COEs focus more on standardization and best practices, others focus more on innovation. When should you build a cloud centre of excellence? The best time is before starting the first cloud migration in your company. Even if you're already well underway with your cloud migration, it is still a good idea to build a CCOE. The CCOE focus on and manages the cloud skills in the enterprise. This includes selecting cloud providers and tools to migrate applications and data to the cloud to manage ongoing cloud operations. Not all organizations may need a CCOE, but creating one can help an organization struggling with integrating the cloud into its application and organizational culture. For a COE to be successful, you must ensure that you have the buy-in from the executive sponsors and that the CCOE is empowered and supported by them. CCOEs are designed to meet the cloud adoption goals of a company. Ideally, the COE is a cross-functional team of people with both attitude and aptitude for cloud migration. Resist the urge to pick your first cloud project team as your CCOE. It can be started by identifying a group of three to five members who act as the core team. There are different ways an organization can structure their Cloud Centre of Excellence, but some common elements are found in most successful CCOEs. The CCOE is a set of teams or single team which is  centrally managed with direct control over all aspects of the cloud operating model. The prime responsibility of CCOE is to ensure that all other teams in the organization are using the cloud safely and consistently. We need to ensure ambassadors of CCOE come from various teams in the organization. These ambassadors play a pivotal role in the success of CCOE as they act as a conduit between the organization and CCOE, providing information and support to teams as needed. The CCOE offers a conduit for the development teams, operations, even the PMO function and partners. The CCOE function also provides a conduit of information to upper management so they can understand how it is working and what is going on. The CCOE also provides a cloud innovation council function which ensure the innovation freely flow into the cloud adoption framework which the organization is adopting. The CCOE is not static and evolves as your cloud adoption journey progresses. You need to continuously evaluate the impact of the CCOE on the organization and readjust, realign, and grow this team as the projects they influence grow. Think of CCOE as a team that champions cloud adoption and inspires other employees to move to the cloud. It is critical that everyone is aware of the cloud transformation that is occurring in the organization and they are educated on how to utilize the cloud services provided. The CCOE helps make this organizational communication transformation possible.

The CCOE Key Focus area should have four fundamental key pillars training/user adoption, Industry research, technology deployment and automation, as shown in the below picture.


What should a CCOE organizational structure look like?

Well, there's no single one-size-fits-all answer to that question. This is because the actual cloud centre of excellence structure will vary depending on the organization's specific needs and culture. There are some general guidelines. The CCOE should have a clear mandate established from the top of the leadership structure in your company with clearly defined goals and deliverables. They should be responsible for everything from assessing the business case for moving to the world of the cloud to designing the new architecture and selecting the right providers.

The head of the cloud centre of excellence needs to be a senior leader within the company management structure. This is required so the centre receives the credibility it requires to accomplish its job and reinforce this effort's significance to the entire organization. The CCOE management should have solid cross-organizational communication skills as they must communicate and coordinate closely with all parts of the organization. The CCOE is centralized and provides centralized management, control, alignment, championing, and training for all things related to the cloud. The cloud centre of excellence should be well-funded and have the resources necessary to carry out its mandate. This includes everything from people to hardware to external vendor products and relationships. The major components of the CCOE include a single team. Organizationally, the CCOE should be a single team under a single leadership. All aspects of the CCOE must be coordinated and managed centrally. A champion is someone within the organization who helps drive the CCOE efforts forward. They are responsible for driving acceptance throughout the organization and getting buy-in from senior management.

While this might also be the leader of the CCOE, there is great value, especially in a larger organization, if the CCOE leadership role and the champion role are split into two separate jobs. The specific skill sets they need are different. The leader is more of an organizer and a manager, and the champion is a rallier and a driver—embedded ambassador. Following teams are needed in a fully operating CCOE team.

Ambassador team

The CCOE should have a group of centrally managed ambassadors but dotted lines embedded into various critical groups within the greater organization. They share the knowledge and expertise of the CCOE across the entire organization.

Subject matter experts team

SMEs in the cloud and related technology are critical resources of information for the CCOE leadership, the embedded ambassadors, and the CCOE champion. These subject matter experts typically include cloud architects, operational architects, DevOps specialists, and related disciplines.

Partner management

The CCOE needs someone or a team responsible for managing cloud partners and associated vendors. This includes evaluation, selection, negotiation, and technical integration.

Tools teams

The CCOE needs one or more tools teams that build and support the tooling and processes necessary to enable the use of the cloud. This group must work closely with any other tooling teams within the organization.

Cloud ops team

The CCOE needs one or more teams dedicated to building and managing the operational aspects of the cloud. This group must work closely with any other IT ops groups within the organization.

Analytics team

The CCOE needs a clear set of objectives and a clear focus based on data and analytics. Collecting, correlating, and processing metrics and analytics from the cloud and related systems and presenting them in a way that meets the needs of upper management. Also, CCOE management, ambassadors, and the rest of the organization are responsible for this analytics team.

Training and innovation council team

The CCOE coordinates training in cloud technologies and capabilities across the entire organization. These are the main components that make up the cloud centre of excellence.


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