A New School of Thought
Refactoring applications and infrastructure to be “cloud native” requires attention to new areas. Network latency and fault tolerance become greater design factors. Securing and monitoring cloud assets involves new tools and processes, and cost monitoring is essential to ensure that unused assets do not continue to accrue costs.
Cloud deployment often requires organizations to refactor their application stacks to incorporate DevOps principles. Infrastructure as Code tools such as Terraform, Amazon Web Services’ CloudFormation and Azure Resource Manager allow organizations to use version control tools to automate deployment and manage changes to infrastructure over time. Container orchestration tools such as Kubernetes and Docker Swarm allow for self-healing infrastructure that can dynamically scale and respond to changing conditions.
Unlocking these capabilities requires specific skills, but it is not cost-effective to hire a cloud architect for every project. Contracting out on a project-by-project basis is likely to result in inconsistent deployments, poor integration, and difficulty monitoring security and cost across different projects. Organizations need to establish a core set of competencies in cloud architecture and find a way to apply those to emergent projects.
The Basics of Establishing a CCoE
This is where a cloud center of excellence (CCoE) can help propel organizations forward toward cloud adoption. A CCoE is a focal point for concentrating architectural, security and policy expertise in a single team that can apply it consistently across the organization. The CCoE acts as an internal consultant on projects, helping plan, procure, architect, deploy and support cloud initiatives successfully.
Gartner identifies three pillars in establishing a CCoE. Governance defines the policies, guardrails, strategy and tooling that organizations must use to be consistent and compliant in their use of the cloud. Brokerage defines the processes and standards that the organization will use to select and contract with service providers. Community highlights the CCOE’s role in establishing a community of practice that provides training, knowledge sharing and change leadership to IT across the institution.
Stakeholder Engagement Is Crucial for CCoEs
Establishing a CCoE starts with executive leadership support. It is critical to secure support from both senior IT leadership and others within the campus community. Many organizations find support for a CCoE within their procurement, legal or compliance offices, as the CCoE helps ensure cloud deployments are consistent with organizational requirements.
Once leadership support is secured, it’s time to form the CCoE. Many organizations designate a chief cloud architect to lead the CCoE. While cloud acumen is desirable in this position, the most important characteristics are vision and collaboration. Many organizations engage a trusted partner for the technical aspects of their cloud strategies, but it’s essential that the chief cloud architect can engage and provide change leadership with campus business partners.
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