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Dispelling the Universal Need for a Cloud Center of Excellence: When Your Organization Might Fare Better Without One

What you should know: I am currently working for Nordcloud as Cloud Advisor, but any posts on this blog reflect my own views and opinions only.

Over the past years the concept of a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) has been pushed as the go-to solution for organizations starting their cloud journey. However, as I have discussed in an earlier post, the adoption of a CCoE is not a panacea for fixing your cloud adoption initiatives. There are scenarios where organizations might find that they’re better off without setting up a CCoE. This may seem a little unexpected at first, but let’s dig into this thought a little further.

At the outset, it’s essential to consider the cost and resource commitment needed to establish a CCoE. Setting up a CCoE requires a considerable allocation of time, personnel, and financial resources. For smaller organizations or businesses operating on tighter budgets, this investment might not be feasible or justifiable. Instead, these organizations could find more value in directing these resources towards the execution of cloud projects or other strategic initiatives that directly contribute to their business goals.

The justification for a CCoE hinges heavily on the complexity and scale of the organization’s cloud strategy. If the organization’s cloud needs are simple or linear, the need for a dedicated CCoE may diminish. In such instances, organizations can effectively leverage existing IT teams or resources, supplemented by specific cloud training or consultation. This approach can manage their cloud transition efficiently, without the overhead of a separate, dedicated entity.

On a structural level, the creation of a CCoE can sometimes lead to unintended silo formation. If the CCoE is perceived as the sole entity responsible for cloud knowledge and expertise, it can create barriers to knowledge sharing and cross-functional collaboration. And remember, these are key tenets of modern IT operations. In this context, it might be more beneficial to cultivate a culture where cloud expertise is decentralized, thus fostering an environment where knowledge and skills are widely disseminated across various teams.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the rush to establish a CCoE can sometimes divert focus from crafting a comprehensive cloud strategy. As I’ve reiterated in my previous blog post, a robust, well-thought-out cloud strategy is the bedrock of successful cloud adoption. Without this strategic foundation, even the most well-resourced CCoE will stumble and eventually fail. Organizations might find it more beneficial to channel their efforts into devising and refining this strategy, instead of prematurely committing to a CCoE.

So, while a CCoE can indeed be a powerful tool for navigating the cloud journey, its necessity and effectiveness are not universal. Each organization should critically evaluate their specific needs, capabilities, and goals before determining whether a CCoE is the right choice. Remember, in the realm of cloud computing, strategy and thoughtful execution often outperform organizational structures. Just as we wouldn’t use a compass to navigate in space, we shouldn’t default to a CCoE in contexts where it might not be the most effective tool.

Beyond the CCoE: Embracing Alternative Approaches to Support Cloud Adoption

Having now highlighted potential drawbacks and considerations surrounding the establishment of a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE), it’s important to recognize that there are many paths to successful cloud adoption, not all of which involve a CCoE.

One such approach is the creation of cloud competency across all teams. Rather than concentrating expertise within a dedicated CCoE, organizations can foster a “cloud culture” where knowledge and skills are widely disseminated. This can be achieved through comprehensive training programs, cloud-focused knowledge sharing sessions, and encouraging hands-on experience with cloud technologies. The advantage of this approach is that it promotes a more well-rounded understanding of cloud technologies across the whole organization, which will drive better collaboration and decision-making.

Another alternative lies in leveraging external expertise. For organizations that lack the resources to establish a CCoE or where cloud needs are more transient, employing external consultants or managed service providers can be a viable option. These experts can provide the guidance and support, allowing the organization to benefit from their expertise without the commitment of setting up and maintaining a CCoE. A major drawback here is of course that you will develop a strong dependency on external suppliers that might no be acceptable from a strategic viewpoint.

To wrap things up, let’s keep in mind that the ultimate aim of any cloud journey is to use cloud technologies to achieve business goals, not to just set up a CCoE. While a CCoE can be helpful for some organizations, it’s not always the best approach. Before establishing a CCoE, a thorough and honest assessment of needs, capabilities, and goals needs to back an informed decision to do so. Taking this strategic approach will lead to a more successful cloud journey, whether or not a CCoE is involved.

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