What is a cloud center of excellence and why should your organization create one?
As more federal public sector organizations move toward cloud computing, many are looking for ways to make sure that they’re using the cloud effectively and efficiently. One way to do this is to establish a cloud center of excellence (CCoE). At Amazon Web Services (AWS), we work with thousands of customers to help them procure the appropriate cloud resources for their organizations. Eighty-three percent of customers with a CCoE say it is effective, with the top reported benefits of a CCoE including reduced security risks, reduced costs, and improved ability to be innovative and agile. In this blog post, learn best practices for how to create an effective CCoE and more.
What is a cloud center of excellence (CCoE)?
A CCoE is a team or group of individuals within an organization responsible for creating and implementing cloud-related best practices, guidelines, and governance policies. A CCoE can help public sector organizations effectively manage their businesses operations and deliver value to their customers and communities. This CCoE team brings together representatives from otherwise siloed roles, like:
- Technical experts with experience in cloud architecture, cloud engineering, security, and operations;
- Business analysts that help align the organization’s overall objectives and bring business perspective to the CCoE;
- Finance office professionals that focus on the cost implications of cloud adoption and make sure that the organization is making informed financial decisions related to cloud adoption;
- Legal and compliance professionals to help to manage risk associated with cloud adoption;
- Human Resources (HR) professionals that can provide guidance on the skills and training needed to successfully adopt cloud technology and make sure that the organization’s culture is aligned with cloud adoption; and
- Innovation experts to drive a forward-thinking approach to help identify new opportunities for cloud adoption within the organization.
By centralizing knowledge and expertise from those involved with or effected by cloud technology within the CCoE, organizations can improve efficiency, enhance security and compliance practices, and drive innovation. This can help organizations better serve their customers and stay ahead of market trends.
Why create a cloud center of excellence for federal organizations?
Federal organizations may have unique priority areas that require a more holistic approach to cloud adoption. For example, cybersecurity is often a top concern for federal agencies. Federal organizations must comply with a variety of regulations and standards that may not apply to other public sector customers. A CCoE can help make sure that cloud resources are deployed securely and in compliance with relevant programs and guides, such as Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), Department of Defense Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide (DoD CC SRG), and more, across the entire organization.
Federal organizations often consist of multiple agencies and departments, each with its own unique needs and requirements. This also involves the requirement to report on how they allocate costs for various IT initiatives to Congress. A lack of holistic communication across an organization in the procurement of cloud services can lead to complexities in budgeting across departments, and the procurement of services that may not fully address business needs or that don’t align with other timelines for innovation. A CCoE provides a framework for communication and collaboration among key stakeholders, making sure that all aspects of cloud adoption are considered and aligned with the organization’s overall goals.
A CCoE can also help address inconsistent cloud adoption within an organization or agency. Inconsistent cloud adoption across different departments or business units can lead to inefficiencies and reduced effectiveness. A CCoE can support consistent adoption of cloud services, architecture, and standards across the organization, leading to better collaboration and resource sharing.
CCoEs can also help address the risk of missed opportunities in buying or developing solutions at scale across an organization. For instance, enterprise agreements in the AWS Marketplace can provide significant cost savings and streamlined procurement processes. A well-aligned CCoE can help identify these opportunities and help their organization take advantage of them.
Lastly, a CCoE can help address the challenge of upskilling staff for cloud-based infrastructure. With the rapid pace of technology advancements, organizations must keep their staff’s skills up-to-date to maximize the benefits of cloud-based solutions. A CCoE can identify training and development opportunities so staff have the skills to maintain and improve the cloud-based infrastructure that the organization adopts.
Benefits of creating a cloud center of excellence
There are many examples of the benefits of a cloud center of excellence (CCoE) and how it can drive customer outcomes. A CCoE can help:
- Increase efficiency – By centralizing cloud-related activities within the CCoE, organizations can reduce duplication of effort and make sure that resources are used effectively. This can help to improve efficiency and reduce costs. For example, a CCoE might implement automated processes to provision and manage cloud resources, reducing the need for manual intervention and improving efficiency.
- Enhance security – Security is a top concern for federal public sector customers, and a CCoE can help make sure that cloud-based applications and services are deployed securely. By establishing security guidelines and best practices, a CCoE can help organizations avoid potential security breaches or vulnerabilities. For example, a CCoE can help to identify and mitigate security risks by establishing security policies and procedures for secure authentication and access control, encryption of data at rest and in transit, regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing, and incident response procedures.
- Improve decision-making – A CCoE can help organizations make more informed decisions about their cloud initiatives by providing access to centralized knowledge and expertise on cloud technology. This can help organizations better understand the capabilities and limitations of different cloud solutions and choose the best solutions for their specific needs. For example, a CCoE might conduct a thorough analysis of different cloud solutions to determine which is the most cost-effective and scalable for a particular workload.
- Enhance collaboration and communication – A CCoE can foster collaboration and communication within the organization by bringing together experts from different departments and functions to work on cloud initiatives. This can help to break down silos, improve cross-functional teamwork, and help federal public sector customers establish guidelines and best practices for collaboration in the cloud, so teams are working together effectively and efficiently. For example, a CCoE might facilitate cross-functional teams to work together on the design and implementation of a cloud-based application.
- Improve agility and flexibility – A CCoE can help organizations more simply adopt new cloud technologies and innovations, enabling them to be more agile and flexible in the face of changing market conditions and customer needs. For example, a CCoE might conduct research and development to identify and evaluate new cloud technologies that may help the organization serve its customers better.
- Enhance reputation and credibility – By establishing a CCoE and showing a commitment to best practices and standards in cloud technology, public sector organizations can enhance their reputation and credibility in the market. This can help them attract and retain customers and build working relationships with other industry players. For example, a CCoE might establish collaborations with industry-leading organizations or participate in industry events and conferences to showcase the organization’s expertise in cloud technology.
- Increase innovation – Cloud computing offers many opportunities for innovation, but it can be challenging for organizations to take advantage of these opportunities. A CCoE can help federal public sector customers identify and implement innovative solutions in the cloud that can benefit the full scope of the organization, helping them stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology.
- Save costs – Finally, by establishing best practices and guidelines for cloud computing, a CCoE can help federal public sector customers save money. By reducing the risk of errors and mistakes and by increasing efficiency, organizations can save both time and money. For example, a CCoE can analyze the organization’s current infrastructure and identify opportunities to optimize costs through cloud migration, such as identifying underutilized hardware or software licenses.
It’s important for organizations to consider establishing a CCoE to effectively manage their businesses and deliver value to their customers.
Best practices for creating a cloud center of excellence
Here are some best practices that organizations can use for creating a cloud center of excellence (CCoE):
- Define the scope and objectives of the CCoE – This involves establishing specific goals and metrics for the CCoE to track, such as cost savings or improved efficiency. It’s important for organizations to define the scope and objectives of the CCoE to make sure that it’s aligned with the overall goals and strategy of the organization.
- Establish a governance model – A CCoE should have a clear governance model in place to make sure that it’s properly aligned with the rest of the organization, and that it has the authority to carry out its responsibilities. This may include establishing a steering committee or other governing body to oversee the CCoE, as well as defining roles and responsibilities for team members.
- Identify and engage key stakeholders – Organizations should identify and engage key stakeholders in the CCoE, such as IT leaders, business unit leaders, and subject experts. By engaging these stakeholders, organizations can make sure that the CCoE has the support and resources to be successful.
- Establish partnerships and collaborations – A CCoE can benefit from establishing partnerships and collaborations with other organizations, such as industry partners or academic institutions. These partnerships can provide access to additional expertise and resources and can help to drive innovation and collaboration within the CCoE.
- Develop a roadmap and action plan – A CCoE should develop a roadmap and action plan to guide its efforts and make sure that it stays on track to achieve its goals. This could include establishing short-term and long-term goals, as well as identifying the resources and support that are needed to achieve these goals.
A cloud center of excellence can be a valuable asset for federal public sector customers looking to take full advantage of cloud computing. By establishing best practices, guidelines, and governance policies, a CCoE can help organizations increase efficiency, enhance security, improve collaboration, increase innovation, save money, and make sure that they’re well-aligned with the overall goals and strategies of the organization with the support and resources it needs to be successful. If you are a federal public sector customer considering cloud computing, establishing a CCoE can help streamline this process.
For more information about CCoE, check out the AWS whitepaper Building a CCoE to transform the entire enterprise.
Read related stories on the AWS Public Sector Blog:
- 4 steps to build a data strategy for managing performance in the public sector
- Security, stability, and speed: Strategy essentials for your mission
- Whole-of-state cybersecurity: Three procurement considerations for the public sector
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