What is a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE)?

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Cloudticity, L.L.C.

Cloud adoption rates continue to grow in healthcare and beyond. Organizations across industries recognize the tremendous potential benefits that cloud services can provide—including enhanced flexibility, improved scalability, access to cutting-edge technologies, and support for new ways of working.

Consequently, many organizations are developing their cloud strategy and seeking out best practices for cloud implementation. Moving from an on-premises environment to the cloud might seem like a straightforward task, but there are several core pieces of the process that must be in place to ensure successful migration. To complicate matters, different teams within an organization might have distinct—and conflicting—cloud needs and implementation strategies.

A Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) can help. A CCoE is a team responsible for leading an organization’s cloud transformation. The CCoE can help ensure that its organization progresses with its cloud journey while staying aligned with business goals.

Understanding how a CCoE operates and identifying potential areas of concern can help you decide whether establishing a CCoE is the right move for your organization.

How Can a CCoE Help Your Organization?

More companies are embarking on cloud initiatives than ever before. But not all are prepared to select and manage cloud vendors, establish governance policies, implement best practices, or foster collaboration across the enterprise.

A CCoE can provide critical assistance throughout the cloud adoption journey. The CCoE isn’t a physical location or separate body—it’s a dedicated team drawn from across an organization. That team is a valuable source of knowledge and expertise that can share best practices and take a leadership role in making key decisions. 

It is a team that can help with cloud adoption now and in the future. It can define repeatable processes for cloud adoption that will ensure success over and over again, no matter where and when those processes are put into place.

Importantly, the CCoE does not just fill an advisory role. The CCoE provides real, actionable guidance to business units as they implement cloud computing. That guidance is fully backed and embraced by upper management, giving it a weight that is greater than simple how-to advice.

What Are the Core Functions of the CCoE?

There are three pillars of the CCoE: governance, brokerage, and community. Each contains a subset of tasks that the CCoE oversees. If these pillars are firmly in place, an organization can overcome many potential obstacles.


Governance involves the policies and procedures that apply to cloud services. First, the CCoE must draft governance policies and guidelines, making sure to consider their effects on the entire organization. The team must then devise a strategy for adopting the policies. They should establish guardrails for implementation, helping to ensure complete alignment with policies.


The CCoE can help evaluate and select the cloud platforms, managed service providers (MSPs), cloud management tools, and other technologies and services required for cloud implementation. To ensure team members make the right recommendations, the CCoE should cultivate relationships between vendors and organizational decision-makers. 

The CCoE can also assist with architecting the cloud solution. Working with vendors, the CCoE’s cloud architects, IT teams, and engineers can help make specific selections that are optimized for their organization’s business and technical requirements. 


The CCoE must foster community. The team should help transmit knowledge among relevant parties and company leaders, facilitating collaboration. This is one of the most important functions of the CCoE, but it is also often overlooked. 

Who Should Be Part of the CCoE?

CCoE teams should include key stakeholders in the organization’s cloud journey. These stakeholders will help to develop cloud resources, calculate future costs, and work towards a state of cloud infrastructure maturity.

The CCoE typically comprises an array of executives, managers, and technology experts, such as:

  • Chief financial officer (CFO)
  • Chief technology officer (CTO)
  • IT manager
  • Operations manager
  • Network and database engineers
  • Systems architect
  • Cloud architect
  • Executive team members
  • Security teams
  • Senior-level IT personnel

Including individuals from across multiple disciplines is essential. Cloud adoption has implications for every department. While it’s not necessary to have each business unit represented by its department head, a multi-discipline approach makes sure that all stakeholders’ needs are covered. These individuals will work together as a centralized team to drive cloud transformation for the company.

How Are Members Selected for the CCoE?

Regardless of their job titles, members of the CCoE need to be leaders. They will often need to get buy-in from multiple parts of the organization. The CCoE members need to sell the immense business value in making the change. The best members, then, are those who can explain things in a convincing way.

Expertise is also non-negotiable. These individuals need to understand the “why” and “how” behind the decision to adopt cloud architectures. 

When identifying CCoE team members, companies should look for individuals who are:

  • Trusted. Implementing change is never easy. The people being asked to change need to trust that the individuals guiding that change have organizational and customer interests firmly in their sights.
  • Courageous. While it sounds dramatic, the courage to challenge long-held practices and policies is often what’s required. Shying away from a challenge means that the cloud may never fully be adopted. Think of it as the difference between an explorer who is afraid to lose sight of the horizon, and one who is willing to sail into uncharted waters.
  • Unifying. The CCoE needs to be unified in its approach. Different viewpoints are a given. But when viewpoints are widely divergent, it can be difficult to move in a single direction. That’s why it’s sometimes better to start with a smaller team and create that unified approach, then slowly build out the team over time.

What Tasks Will CCoE Members Perform?

The tasks that CCoE members need to perform should align with their area of expertise. For example, cloud architects and engineers who are part of the CCoE can help select the right cloud technologies and tools, and design the architecture. They can also test system configurations before, during, and after migration. They’ll need to make changes once everything has been completed ensuring optimal performance.

A security architect member of the CCoE will need to assess the security of the cloud, searching for vulnerabilities and addressing them before implementation. That member will also need to create a set of guidelines that will become part of the governance pillar functions. And the security architect will need to test security configurations before sensitive data is uploaded to the cloud.

Meanwhile, the executive team will supervise and ensure that organizational values and missions are at the heart of the adoption.

What Challenges Do CCoE Teams Usually Face?

Large cloud projects are challenging, and there will always be hiccups along the way. A CCoE can face several challenges that can slow cloud adoption.

  • Misperception of CCoE: The CCoE might be perceived as the repository for all cloud knowledge within a company. But in fact, CCoE team members don’t know everything about cloud usage across the business and aren’t in charge of managing it all. The CCoE team is mainly responsible for the enablement of optimal cloud adoption. While they can help ensure cloud services are functionally available to everyone, they do not control who uses the cloud or how it’s used.
  • Conflicts with DevOps: The CCoE might experience friction with the DevOps team. Organizations should remember that the CCoE isn’t the end-all-be-all for cloud within a company. The CCoE should be sure to avoid stifling innovation that occurs within DevOps teams.
  • Lack of authority: Some business groups might not recognize the CCoE as an authority. Stakeholders might choose not to listen to the CCoE’s guidance. Cloud adoption often means a change in workflows, which can be difficult for some team members. The CCoE will be more successful in projecting authority if it justifies changes so that team members can easily see their value. The CCoE team might need to provide explanations and illustrations directly to individuals rather than sharing them only in large group presentations.
  • Failure to fully adopt cloud architecture: It might be tempting for the CCoE team to stick with some traditional technologies and standards because doing so would meet with less resistance. But the organization needs to fully embrace cloud architecture for the transition to be successful. 
  • Resistance to rigid policies and guidelines: Setting policies and guidelines that are too rigid can also be a roadblock to successfully moving to the cloud. The CCoE needs to take an honest assessment of the resources available and set the best possible, and realistically achievable, policies.
  • Insufficient adaptability: Cloud adoption often requires accepting incremental change rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach. The CCoE must be willing to adapt their goals, implementing what’s possible now, then continuing to improve over time.

Selecting the Right Cloud Platform 

The CCoE plays an important role in selecting the best cloud platform (or platforms) for its organization. That platform has to provide the right combination of capabilities at the right cost. Before committing to a particular platform and service provider, the CCoE must conduct sufficient due diligence.

For example, the CCoE might consider AWS as the organization’s primary cloud services vendor. AWS is a leading cloud provider, offering a deep portfolio of services. It’s essential that the CCoE team understand how AWS works, so team members can help guide architects in designing the proper enterprise architecture. They’ll also need to set guidelines and policies for optimal efficiency and security. 

Alternatively, the CCoE might lean toward Microsoft Azure as a primary cloud provider. Azure is often attractive to smaller organizations because of its lower cost: AWS can often be up to five times as expensive as Azure. As it is with AWS, relevant CCoE team members must be well versed in the technicalities of Azure to ensure optimal configuration and trouble-free adoption.

Whatever cloud provider the CCoE selects, the CCoE should work with IT teams and cloud architects to choose the best cloud management tools for the organization. While cloud providers offer their own cloud management tools, an organization might implement third-party tools, which might be simpler to use or enable the organization to support a multi-cloud approach. Depending on which tools are selected, IT teams might need training. 

Some organizations will benefit from engaging an MSP to handle management tasks. By offloading time-consuming cloud management functions, organizations can stay focused on their core strategic priorities.

Why Do You Need A CCoE?

The CCoE is a beacon that guides the rest of the organization. It leads by example, clearly illustrating the “why” and “how” of the transition. It would be difficult for an organization to uniformly adopt best practices without a single unifying body.

The CCoE also helps to select training vendors that are both cost and time efficient. When teams are left to their own devices, they might choose distinct training approaches, which can cause major issues down the road.

When it comes to keeping upper management in the loop, the CCoE is essential. The CCoE helps to ensure that change is adopted at the upper and lower levels. That’s why buy-in from upper management is critical from the beginning.

And again, the CCoE is indispensable in selecting cloud providers and vendors. It helps ensure that the entire architecture works together and avoids the risks of taking a piecemeal approach. 

The CCoE is Essential to Successful Cloud Adoption

Building a CCoE might seem to be an extra hurdle, but it’s worth the effort. By starting small, organizations can turn this minor challenge into a huge win when they successfully adopt and implement full cloud computing. 

Want to implement a CCoE today? Schedule a free consultation with a healthcare cloud specialist and learn how Cloudticity can help.

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