Your move to the cloud is paying dividends. Your company’s growth is accelerating and you have plans in place to hire additional staff and expand your office space. All of the hard work appears to be paying off, but instead of celebrating, you’ve got reasons for concern.
Growth means scaling up your cloud infrastructure, but your cloud operations are already more complex and consume more resources than you had expected. You have limited visibility into your cloud usage, and you’re not sure what percentage of your cloud spend is effective or simply wasted. Making matters worse, your staff may not be completely on board with a move to the cloud, which undermines best practices, and in turn impacts your risk from a compliance, efficiency and financial perspective. It’s clear that you need to implement a way to centralize & standardize management of your cloud resource — a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE), but where do you start? What resources or tools can you use to bring a CCoE online?
Embracing Cloud Enabled Transformation
Before exploring resources or tools to build or manage your CCoE, it’s essential to recognize that cloud adoption is a continual, company-wide transformational process that requires a change in mindset as well as acceptance and engagement from stakeholders. A reluctance to embrace cloud adoption as an on-going transformational process, will impede your company’s cloud-enabled transformation and the success of your cloud-based business initiatives.
What is a CCoE and what is its purpose?
A CCoE is a centralized, cross-functional team of people responsible for developing the governance framework for a company’s cloud operations, cloud strategy, and company-wide adoption of best practices. Functionally, a CCoE is tasked with improving cloud outcomes, managing lock-in risk, and optimizing usage against costs. The central purpose of a CCoE is to drive a company’s cloud-enabled transformation.
Your People Determine the Success of Your Cloud-Enabled Transformation
The success of your cloud-enabled transformation is determined by the people in your organization. Engineers are particularly important as they are often the primary users of cloud services and illustrate the most fundamental use case for adoption of the cloud — to innovate faster. If your team members are not on board, then your cloud-enabled transformation efforts will see mixed results. The acceptance of cloud transformation will likely not be concurrent, so a central component of your CCoE’s charter is the promotion and validation of your cloud-enabled transformation to help ease acceptance. Understanding the broad scope of cloud-enabled transformations and the vital role that your people play is foundational to building your CCoE.
Resources To Build Your CCoE
There are several resources that you can leverage to help build your CCoE. The list below includes a few key resources to consider.
Assessing Your Current Cloud Operations
Before building your CCoE, you should assess and document the current state of your company’s cloud operations. Use this assessment to help develop your CCoE mandate and to help set the scope, goals, and strategy for your CCoE. Your cloud operations assessment can also identify where to focus your initial CCoE efforts.
Specific cloud operations assessment activities include:
- Assess the state of your cloud operation’s financial management.
- Assess the state of your cloud operation’s security and compliance.
- Assess the state of your cloud operation’s alignment with business goals.
- Assess the state of your cloud operation’s ability to support cloud initiatives.
- Assess the state of your cloud operation’s ability to improve outcomes.
Establishing a CCoE Mandate
A CCoE mandate is a key resource that defines and sets the goals and objectives for your CCoE and how it will define and align your cloud strategy to meet your company’s strategic and business goals. Be sure to incorporate the information learned from your cloud operations assessment to establish where you are and where you would like to be in your cloud transformation.
A CCoE mandate will help ensure that your CCoE team understands and works to meet their goals and objectives and that your company understands the purpose behind launching a CCoE. The mandate document also serves as a resource that can be referenced when difficult decisions need to be made. Finally, it is imperative that your company’s executive team support the CCoE mandate by sponsoring and empowering your CCoE team to make decisions based on the strategic and business goals of the mandate.
Assessing and Building Your CCoE Team
A team assessment helps you evaluate and recruit CCoE team members that can help meet the strategic and business goals established in your CCoE mandate. Keep your CCoE team small initially, around three to five people total, and set a specific but limited set of objectives for the team. This approach will help ensure the initial success of the team and will also help to quickly validate the team. Setting too many initial goals creates unnecessary complexity and may cause the CCoE to miss their initial goals.
Most companies already have people on staff that are good candidates for a CCoE team. Ideally you should assess potential team candidates from key stakeholder groups and different departments. Team members that are also key stakeholders will more effectively represent the actual needs of your stakeholder groups and provide them with the opportunity to provide direct input. Team members from stakeholder groups and different departments will also help build communication channels, break down silos, facilitate buy-in, and help promote adherence to cloud best practices.
Your CCoE team should include people with strong technical experience and a proven track record of solutions-driven wins in a public cloud environment. You will need people with the right expertise. This means recruiting cloud developers, systems and database administrators, IT operations people, and people with security experience among others. Organizing a governance framework and strategy for cloud operations or a full cloud-enabled transformation is technically challenging.
As your CCoE team is finalized, you can begin to define the structure of the team including establishing a team leader, assigning specific tasks to team members, and outlining strategies and timelines to meet the goals and objectives outlined in the CCoE mandate.
CCoE Cloud Transformation Education
A cloud transformation education program is a key resource that enables the promotion of cloud best practices, while providing a framework for educating staff on your cloud-enabled transformation, which will improve acceptance and engagement.
Specific CCoE cloud transformation education program activities include:
- Prepare and share educational resources on cloud-enabled transformation and how it impacts your company’s business strategy.
- Define best practices for your cloud operations and document them.
- Create a cloud best practices knowledge base that is available to all employees.
- Promote cloud best practices throughout the organization with consistent outreach.
- Organize and execute cloud transformation education events.
- Organize an ongoing discussion forum to drive cloud best practices and to validate your cloud-enabled transformation efforts.
- Establish a feedback process for employee comments and recommendations.
CCoE KPIs and Reporting
Establishing a relevant set of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is an effective way to measure the progress and success of your CCoE activities. Measuring and reporting on the success of your CCoE is important not only for the on-going management of your CCoE, but it also serves as a way to validate your company’s cloud-enabled transformation and your CCoE.
Specific performance indicators to consider when developing your CCoE KPIs include:
- On-premises infrastructure costs per product or team
- Cloud migration costs per product or team
- Cloud operational costs per product or team
- Cloud operations impact on revenue and profit
- Cloud operations performance and automation
Your CCoE team is tasked with specific responsibilities including developing cloud strategy, improving cloud outcomes, managing cloud risk, and optimizing cloud costs. There are a variety of cloud management tools available that can help your CCoE team meet these responsibilities, both from cloud services providers and independent software vendors (ISVs); however there are limitations to what these tools can do.
Most tools typically only support high-level views into your cloud operations and optimization opportunities. Achieving greater granularity requires significantly more time and effort, and even then you won’t have visibility into unallocated resource costs or and resource waste outside of the vendor’s own platform such as containerized or multi-cloud environments. Cloud management tools are not designed to support predictive resource management, so they provide no benefit for forecasting, budgeting and scenario planning. Furthermore most available tools only focus on cost optimization, but fail to address other issues faced by DevOps teams including selecting the right cloud services for their infrastructure.
To truly empower your team we recommend finding tools that can support the following:
- Continuous and granular visibility into resource utilization
- Forecasting future utilization
- Continuous optimization of resources to meet engineering demands
- Continuous visibility into current contracts, costs, and savings from discounts
- Forecasting future costs
- Budgeting tools
- Optimized purchasing recommendations for contracts based on historical usage, infrastructure needs, and future growth strategies
- Continuous optimization of contracts
- Departmental Communication, Alerting, and Reporting
- Automation of planning, monitoring, and purchasing commitments for infrastructure
Automation First Cloud Resource Management
Cloud-enabled transformation is a continual process that is best supported by cloud resource automation tools that provide automated cloud usage monitoring, automated optimization, and automated cross-functional decision-making support around recommendations. Your CCoE team can best support your company’s continual cloud-enabled transformation by leveraging cloud resource automation tools that enable the continuous improvement of CCoE tasks. The continuous improvement of CCoE tasks helps ensure that your cloud strategy, cloud outcomes, risk management, and cloud spend are continuously and fully optimized.
Cloud resource automation is so effective at scaling the impact of otherwise manual processes implemented by your CCoE that we recommend adopting an “automation-first” approach, leveraging cloud resource automation tools for the planning, building, and managing your CCoE program.
While resources like cloud operations assessments, team building, and cloud transformation education programs are important when building and managing your CCoE, cloud resource automation tools are the best way to ensure that your CCoE can maximize its support for your company’s continual cloud-enabled transformation through the continuous improvement of CCoE tasks.
Reserved.ai is a Cloud Resource Automation Solution that continuously predicts, manages and de-risks your cloud resources by helping you attribute costs, build optimal usage forecasts, and automatically execute commitment plans and guaranteed buybacks to meet those forecasts. Start a free trial to see how we can help your organization as it navigates the cloud resource management process.