What is a cloud adoption framework?

A cloud adoption framework (CAF) is a set of best practices, tools, and guidance that helps organizations get started with cloud technologies. Moving to the cloud is challenging due to legacy technologies, complex application interdependencies, existing infrastructure bottlenecks, plus knowledge and skill gaps. The cloud adoption framework helps organizations identify and mitigate risks, manage costs, and ensure compliance as they move their workloads to the cloud. It also provides guidance on how to optimize governance and security in the cloud for improved efficiency.

What are the benefits of a cloud adoption framework?

A cloud adoption framework helps businesses create an effective digital transformation strategy. Using a CAF offers companies the following benefits.

Reduce business risk

As you move your business to the cloud, there are several potential risk areas. Crucially, data security and privacy must be maintained at every stage. Cloud migration must be planned carefully to prevent application downtime and business interruptions. The cloud adoption framework ensures that companies understand all standards and requirements they must abide by. When you use a CAF, you can improve reliability, increase performance, and enhance security even as you decrease the total cost of the cloud adoption process.

Accelerate innovation

The cloud adoption framework allows businesses to quickly benefit from the scalability and flexibility of cloud-based infrastructure. It reduces the total time and effort to achieve cloud goals. You can bring new ideas to market, reach new customers, create new products and services, or enter new market segments with speed.

Enhance agility

A CAF provides businesses with a clear and highly-structured approach to digital transformation. It defines a cloud adoption strategy and outlines the main steps in detail. The security of a CAF provides additional flexibility to adapt to changing requirements or market conditions. You can streamline and accelerate your cloud journey for continuous improvement, effective resource utilization, and better collaboration.

What are the use cases of cloud adoption frameworks?

Employing a cloud adoption framework is instrumental in cloud transformation and has streamlined the process for businesses worldwide. The following is a selection of core industries that have used CAFs to transform their cloud infrastructure.

Resource organization

You can use CAF to transform how business and technology teams meet your strategic intent and create customer value. Organizing your resources in a way that uses agile methods can help you become more responsive and customer-centric. For example, the University of Auckland uses a CAF as a basis to train staff across various departments in cloud certification. With this approach, the university is more agile when delivering innovative solutions and expert customer service to students.

Technology adoption

A CAF can help you migrate and modernize your legacy infrastructure and applications plus data and analytics technologies for enhanced operational efficiency. For example, you can move mission-critical workloads to the cloud to promote higher up-time and avoid disaster events. Suntory Group, a global leader in beverages, uses a CAF to determine and organize migration steps into a manageable roadmap. They migrate and deploy mission-critical systems to the cloud and build new systems using cloud-native infrastructure.

Process improvement

Cloud architecture can create a secure foundation that reduces operational costs while providing a higher degree of reliability. Businesses can gain agility, flexibility, and data security by migrating to the cloud. Sensis uses the CAF to gain more agility while simultaneously reducing infrastructure costs. They migrated to the cloud using the framework, resulting in the reduction of IT costs by 50%. Sensis was able to free up engineer time with this migration, yielding 80% more time to spend on product development.

What are key capabilities of a cloud adoption framework?

A capability is an organizational ability to use processes to deploy resources like technology, people, and any other assets for a particular outcome. Cloud adoption frameworks identify capabilities and provide guidance to improve cloud readiness and accelerate cloud transformation. The following are some of the capabilities of the CAF.


The business capability of the cloud adoption framework focuses on ensuring that your cloud investments align with business goals and outcomes. They ensure digital transformation supports business strategy and growth while aligning with business ambitions. 

Business stakeholders are CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CIOs, CMOs, CPOs, and CTOs. The CAF includes guidance for cloud adoption relevant to several areas in business, like:

  • Cloud strategy and product management
  • Business insights
  • Portfolio management
  • Strategic partnership
  • Data science and monetization
  • Innovation management


People are the key drivers in a smooth migration and cloud transformation effort, with the workforce and leadership seeking a return on investment from the migration. The people capability of the cloud adoption framework acts as the bridge between technology and business. It aims to make people comfortable with change, streamlining the cultural and organizational mindset shift that the cloud requires. It accelerates the adoption of the cloud by promoting a culture of continuous growth and learning.

Stakeholders include CIOs, COOs, CTOs, CHROs, and cloud directors. The CAF guidance for them focuses on:

  • Culture evolution
  • Workforce transformation
  • Transformational leadership
  • Change acceleration
  • Organizational alignment
  • Cloud fluency
  • Organizational design


Governance includes practices that orchestrate cloud initiatives while minimizing transformation-related risks and maximizing organizational benefits. An effective governance function allows companies to identify and remove barriers to adoption. 

Leading stakeholders of the governance are CIOs, CTOs, CFOs, CROs, and CDOs. The CAF provides guidance for them in:

  • Program and project management
  • Cloud financial management
  • Benefits management
  • Application portfolio management
  • Data curation and governance
  • Risk management


Platform capabilities provide guidance on building enterprise-grade, scalable, hybrid cloud platforms. They help you modernize existing workloads and implement new cloud-native solutions. 

Stakeholders include technology leaders, CTOs, architects, and engineers. The cloud adoption framework supports:

  • Platform architecture and engineering
  • Data architecture and engineering
  • Provisioning and orchestration
  • Modern application development
  • Continuous integration and continuous delivery


Security capabilities of the CAF help companies achieve integrity, high availability, and confidentiality of data and cloud workloads. 

Typical stakeholders that lead security are internal audit leaders, security architects, engineers, CISOs, and CCOs. The CAF includes guidance on:

  • Security governance and assurance
  • Identity and access management
  • Vulnerability management
  • Infrastructure protection
  • Data protection
  • Application security
  • Threat detection and response


Operations ensures you deliver cloud services at a level that meets all organizational needs. Efficiency is critical to the success of digital transformation and enables businesses to meet user expectations. 

Stakeholders for the operations capability include operations and infrastructure leaders, engineers, information technology service managers, and site reliability engineers. The cloud adoption framework provides guidance on:

  • Observability
  • Event management (AIOps)
  • Incident and problem management
  • Change and release management
  • Performance and capacity
  • Configuration management
  • Patch management
  • Availability and continuity
  • Application management

How does the cloud adoption framework work?

A CAF identifies best practices across various aspects of your cloud adoption plan. It uses the following four phases to improve cloud readiness and streamline your cloud transformation journey.


During the envision phase, businesses aim to recognize and identify transformation opportunities. Using strategic objectives, companies prioritize high-impact transformations and assign changes to key stakeholders. You also identify measurable business outcomes that demonstrate the value of digital cloud transformation as you progress through your journey.


In the align phase, you identify specific capability gaps and cross-organizational dependencies. You can also create new strategies to improve cloud readiness and facilitate developmental change. It also ensures stakeholders align with their tasks and oversee change-management activities. 


The launch phase builds early pilots in production to demonstrate the business value of cloud transformation. Pilots aim to be highly-successful, impacting the scope of future direction and allowing businesses to adjust their approach. This stage ensures everything is running smoothly before scaling to full production.


The final stage is scale, where businesses expand upon their pilots to the level that best suits their organization. The desired scale helps ensure businesses receive the benefits they seek when beginning the cloud investment. It also ensures any return on investment is sustained. 

What is the cloud adoption framework for AI?

What is the cloud adoption framework for AI?

The cloud adoption framework for artificial intelligence (AI) supports organizations in their machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence, and generative artificial intelligence (AI) efforts. Much like normal CAF, CAF for AI has a range of foundational organizational capabilities and provides guidance for companies around the world. However, the guidance is focused on AI adoption and includes specific related recommendations not found in regular CAF.

The main goal of CAF-AI is to shape the use of AI and ML, provide context about the critical use cases, and develop a cloud strategy for AI. This framework identifies additional foundational capabilities. For example, product management is already a necessary capability to successfully develop cloud-based products, but its implementation is significantly different when looking at AI and ML services in the cloud. Businesses can use CAF-AI at any point in the journey to help improve their AI maturity. 

How can AWS help you on your cloud adoption journey?

The AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF) leverages AWS experience and best practices to help you digitally transform and accelerate your business outcomes through innovative use of AWS.  It focuses on specific organizational capabilities that enable a successful cloud transformation. With AWS CAF, you can:

  • Reduce business risk through improved reliability, enhanced security, and greater performance.
  • Increase revenue as you reach new customers and enter new market segments.
  • Accelerate and increase operational efficiencies by reducing operating costs and improving employee productivity.
  • Improve ESG performance with insights that guide you toward a more sustainable and transparent future.

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