Dec 20 2021

What Is a Cloud Center of Excellence, and Does Higher Ed Need One?

It is difficult to accelerate transformation in the cloud without a centralized organization like a CCoE.

Whenever a particular department at an institution expresses interest in migrating to the cloud, the burden falls on IT to find and connect the relevant stakeholders to make it happen. It’s a heavy lift for IT, often pulling educational technologists away from important tasks such as user support at a time when positive technology experiences are even more critical for student success and retention.

Considering the siloed nature of higher education, any university interested in moving to the cloud should consider building a cloud center of excellence (CCoE). A CCoE is an internal, centralized organization that creates policies, frameworks and procedures to support cloud adoption, cost control and security.

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What Does a Cloud Center of Excellence Mean?

Kansas State University’s CCoE serves as an internal cloud consultant. The organization oversees the university’s cloud architecture and workload placement.

The CCoE helped make it easier and safer for the university to migrate additional applications and infrastructure to the cloud. According to the university’s website, “The CCoE enables agility and efficiency in IT and is a key ingredient for cloud-enabled IT transformation.”

So, what doesn’t a CCoE do? While a CCoE provides guidelines on managing risks, it isn’t a vendor management organization, nor does it handle project management or day-to-day operations at Kansas State.

Who Should Join a Cloud Center of Excellence Team

It is normal for CCoE members to change as demand for cloud computing rises and declines. But some foundational roles should always remain. These include:

  • Leadership: Ideally, a university’s executive-level members should be cloud supporters. If not, it will be difficult to form a centralized group that has enough credibility to get things done across the institution.
  • Security: The cloud may simplify aspects of security, but it can also introduce complexities. That’s why a CCoE should always have IT security specialists as a part of the organization. Otherwise, security and compliance can become an afterthought at the end of a migration.
  • Infrastructure: Considering the myriad of models and cloud-based services on the market — hybrid cloudmulticloudInfrastructure as a ServicePlatform as a Service and Software as a Service — the CCoE needs a figure who can determine which model works best for different scenarios.
  • Application Development: Since the CCoE will be driving rapid application development in the cloud, someone who represents the interests and concerns of developers should be a part of the team.

As it becomes increasingly clear that agility will be crucial for higher ed in 2022 and beyond, it’s time for universities and colleges to invest in overarching governance to help manage risks while accelerating transformation in the cloud.

This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.

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