September 23, 2021

Article
3 min

Why You Need a Cloud Center of Excellence

Overarching governance ensures that a cloud environment stays optimized, secure and cost-effective.

Steve Cordes-Sween

Establishing a cloud center of excellence (CCoE) is one of the most essential tasks in an organization’s cloud journey, but it’s a step that some may want to skip. One reason is that CCoEs force leaders to plan — to develop a multiyear roadmap or strategy — and that can be challenging. 

Organizations may also overlook CCoEs because they underestimate their importance, thinking that cloud computing is simple. Although the cloud does simplify aspects of computing, it also introduces complexities. Without a CCoE to provide high-level governance and guidelines, those complexities can become liabilities. 

Without dashboards and monitoring, for instance, costs can get out of hand quickly. Without proper configurations, security gaps might put an organization’s data at risk. A CCoE helps organizations avoid these risks while taking advantage of the cloud’s many strengths.

CCoEs Set and Enforce Best Practices for Cloud Environments

Some of a CCoE’s key functions are to establish governance, to facilitate communication and to manage the cloud environment. These are especially important for controlling costs. It’s common, for example, for developers to put workloads in the cloud that few others are aware of, with the result that no one pays attention to invoices or manages spending.

A CCoE enables the organization to apply industry best practices; set standards, policies and procedures; and establish guardrails and guidelines. This adds value to the cloud and puts an organization on the path to success. The CCoE should ask important questions: Which applications can we containerize or modernize? How can we make the cloud more cost-effective and efficient? 

The alternative is to consume cloud resources with no plan and no guidance. All too often, that results in undesirable consequences.

Diverse Stakeholders Bring Valuable Perspectives to CCoE Oversight

A CCoE typically involves senior-level personnel. In some cases, business and IT come together to form a committee approach. The CCoE’s specific makeup will depend on organizational resources, but ideally, the following areas will be represented: technical, executive, lines of business, application development and cybersecurity. 

Generalists can be extremely valuable members of a CCoE, as they may understand many of the different elements that come into play with the cloud. Skill sets don’t necessarily need to be deep, but they should be broad. The cloud is a unique environment, and the best CCoE members will be interested enough to understand all its components.

An Agile Approach Sets CCoEs Up for Ongoing Improvement

CCoEs are typically centralized groups with visibility across an organization so that members can see what’s working and what isn’t. One of the biggest benefits of a CCoE is reducing silos. If each business unit operates its own CCoE and they don’t talk to each other, they’ll miss out on much of what the CCoE can offer.

Finally, a CCoE should be agile — always improving based on experience and mistakes. Communication is vital, and it’s important to seek feedback about how well the CCoE is serving the organization. Strong program management will ensure that both the CCoE and the cloud environment itself serve the organization as effectively as possible.

Story by Steve Cordes-Sween, a principal cloud solution architect for CDW. He has worked in IT for more than 25 years, with experience in cloud architecture, security, infrastructure, integration, application development, Infrastructure as Code and operations. He helps customers bridge the gap between complex business problems and the right cloud solutions and services.