Not all cloud strategies were created equal, but cloud computing is nevertheless evolving from a market disruptor to a base expectation for IT in the era of digital business transformation. As organizations adopt cloud at scale, you might need a cloud center of excellence (CCOE); make sure you know the pros and cons.

Recent research from Lydia Leong, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner, looks at key considerations as you weigh the fit of a CCOE — and best practices for deploying a CCOE if you choose to.

What is a cloud center of excellence?

Gartner defines a CCOE is a centralized enterprise architecture function that leads and governs cloud computing adoption within an organization. It provides central IT with a way to execute the organization’s cloud strategy, enable the business to choose the best solutions, provide governance through policies and cloud management tools, and uplevel skills and foster discovery and distribution of best practices.

A CCOE governs all types of cloud service models — infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and software as-a-service — and provides significant input to the cross-functional operating processes related to the use of these cloud services.

Although an EA discipline, it doesn’t always live there on an organization chart. Most CCOEs are part of central IT, but business units sometimes create their own CCOE. CCOEs might also sometimes be referred to as a “cloud business office” or a “cloud innovation center,” among other names.

It’s important to note that a CCOE is distinct from a cloud strategy or advisory council. Unlike a CCOE, the latter is not a formal organization but rather a committee responsible for drafting and maintaining the cloud strategy as a living document. It provides ongoing advisory to the CCOE and is focused on addressing the “why” behind implementing cloud, rather than the “how,” which is what the CCOE exists to answer.

Some organizations only require a cloud management office or virtual team to deploy cloud, but after more than a decade of Gartner client discussions, the CCOE has emerged as the best practice for facilitating successful cloud adoption in midsize and large enterprise organizations, regardless of the organization’s cloud strategy or structure. The three pillars of a CCOE are governance, brokerage and community.

Cloud centre of excellence risks and rewards

A centralized, vendor-neutral CCOE represents the best way to ensure cloud governance while maintaining business agility. It is particularly effective in organizations where IT is distributed into the business units, but is also useful when IT is centralized. It is most important for agility-focused cloud adoption, but is also useful for cost-efficiency-focused adoption.

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