Across industry verticals, enterprise cloud adoption has increased significantly. Enterprises are leveraging cloud models to transform applications, infrastructure and operations. According to a survey by LogicMonitor, 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. This, however, is also giving rise to concerns across areas such as security, cost management, compliance, governance, lack of cloud expertise, vendor lock-in and partner management.
To address these issues, an enterprise requires common functions under one umbrella that can define architecture standards, security guidelines and governance policies, thereby establishing an industrialized transformation approach for applications and IT infrastructure across various cloud models. This central team, which defines cloud strategy, execution and operational approach, is called Cloud Center of Excellence.
The Cloud Center of Excellence plays the role of a centralized team and acts as the guiding and governing unit for planning, executing and operating an organization’s cloud transformation process. The Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) owns an enterprise’s most important cloud initiatives and works on multiple dimensions to make the client transformation journey successful.
Advisory and Evaluation
Enterprises running legacy applications on traditional infrastructure require a cultural shift to enable their digital transformation journey. The advisory and evaluation function of CCoE works toward evangelizing cloud across enterprises, creating cloud awareness and providing solutions advice. It also assists in identifying applications for cloud fitment by discovering application data and assessing applications besides evaluating features of cloud service providers to ensure alignment with application reference architectures.
Design and Build
Cloud is being adopted at a very fast pace across enterprises. This necessitates defining common design standards, configurations guidelines and automating application environment build and operational support processes. This will not only save costs but also shorten time to market and improve service levels. This function of the CCoE defines architecture, network, security and integration design guidelines besides creating application blueprint templates, configuration parameters and deployment process.
Develop and Deploy
The ever-changing customer expectations lead to frequent changes in business requirements. This requires fast-paced development, error-free functionalities and releases in a shorter time. This function of the CCoE defines and designs CI/CD processes, identifies and configures CI/ CD tools and implements agile development processes.
The CCoE needs to monitor enterprise cloud spend, ensure efficiency and establish governance policies as a part of its objectives. It also needs to define and implement a process for cloud financial management, define security compliance controls, communication processes and change management. Technical (business continuity, architectural and performance, etc.) and operation governance are some of the other focus areas of a CCoE.
Operating in the cloud efficiently requires proper planning combined with an operational strategy and discipline. The CCoE defines future mode of operation for applications running on cloud. It ensures ITIL compliant processes are followed for managing cloud environment. It enables automation of operational processes such as monitoring, backup, patch and self-healing apart from others, and defines SLAs based on business criticality for application availability and business continuity requirements. Additionally, it also defines change management and incident service requests processes.
There are multiple cloud service providers (CSPs), a plethora of tools and SaaS products that exist in the market. This CCoE function focuses on coordinating with product and tool vendors for implementation and service realization. It works with cloud service providers’ technical teams to evaluate new services besides assisting the enterprise applications team. The CCoE liaises between applications teams and CSPs/external product teams to resolve technical challenges.
Innovation/Ideation and Knowledge Management
CSPs continually evolve to keep pace with innovation. This function of the CCoE evaluates new services by developing proof of concepts and publishes guidelines and best practices based on PoC learnings. It also creates a knowledge base leveraging past learnings.
CCoE plays a critical role in implementing the cloud strategy of an enterprise. It defines a framework for governance, designs guidelines and manages the cloud-specific knowledge base. It is, however, of paramount importance that it should start with a small and right kind of team. As cloud adoption increases in an enterprise, responsibilities and scope of the CCoE will expand accordingly. It is important for enterprises to empower the CCoE team allowing them to teach and uphold best practices.