At AWS re:Invent this year I learned about many large organizations, across multiple verticals, who are transforming their businesses to rely on public cloud infrastructure. Capital One, GE, Johnson & Johnson, HBO were all mentioned during the keynote as organizations leveraging the benefits of the public cloud.
As large organizations transform the way they consume infrastructure, there is a need for a new organizational unit, a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE), to ensure a successful transformation. The CCoE should act as the governing unit for the process of planning, executing and operating an organization’s cloud transformation.
At CloudHealth Technologies, I have the opportunity to support several enterprises on their journey to the cloud. Based on their experiences, here are a few best practices for forming a Cloud Center of Excellence in your organization:
Cloud transformation is a cross organizational effort exceeding the boundaries of the IT department. Naturally, the infrastructure and product teams will advocate for the change but the involvement of more teams is crucial. This may include Procurement, Finance, Business Operations, the Security team and more. Efficient collaboration across teams is a MUST and the CCoE should act as the bridge connecting all those units for ensuring the cloud transformation success.
Imagine a scenario in which a new application is deployed on a public cloud infrastructure. An architect designed the cloud architecture, the DevOps team automated the deployment process and the development team aligned with the others to use the new form of code deployment. Voila! We have a product running on the cloud.
It isn’t always that simple…
Deploying an application on public cloud infrastructure will first require the CFO to agree for a deployment in a ‘pay as you go’ pricing model where costs can span out of control. The procurement team will then need to form an agreement with the public cloud vendor. Financial and operational expertise should be gained to ensure the infrastructure is used efficiently, an integration with a budgeting system is required for budget control and chargeback, etc. More than that, in many cases some parts of the application will require re-architecture to leverage the innovative features that the public cloud offers (auto-scale, serverless, microservices, etc.) and the security team will need to conduct their security analysis to ensure all security best practices are deployed. As the acting center of knowledge, the CCoE is a bridge connecting all departments involved.
2. Act differently
Enterprises who are migrating to the public cloud have to be prepared to set aside old methodologies and welcome new approaches. Collaboration, as mentioned above, is one example but there are more methods which will require change. Changes may include infrastructure being consumed in a ‘pay as you go’ model, or new tools being deployed for managing and governing your cloud infrastructure costs. Decision making processes will have to run faster and collaboration with new partners/MSPs is required as they contribute with their extremely valuable expertise.
Over the past few months, I had the opportunity to support the Amdocs team in their process of deploying the CloudHealth platform. Shunit Kainy, Amdocs Senior Technologies Sourcing Manager, shared her thoughts on the adjustments she had to go through during her journey of procuring public cloud infrastructure:
“Cloud computing is constantly evolving, with a wide range of offerings and differing pricing structures. The procurement process is not a one-time effort that will last for years. While at the basic level, we negotiate the enterprise agreement and SLA like most products, this one has flexibility and a growth potential that can span out of control and are risky from a procurement point of view.
The key is involvement. Understanding the needs of the IT, Product, Development & Business teams allows me to suggest a commercial model that can significantly impact a project P&L. Being involved and bringing value, assures cloud users will follow company procedures, and risks (monetary, security and legal) will be managed by the appropriate teams. Be an expert. Cloud commercial programs frequently change. Being current and up-to-date is not an easy task, there can be a difference of over 50% in pricing for a certain use case. You don’t need to be an architect, but being involved will make you the resource that can make THE difference.”
3. Define KPIs
Enterprises moving to the cloud are aiming to reduce their IT spend, increase efficiency and increase their margins. The questions to ask are “how can we measure the outcome of this transformation and how can we measure the efficiency in the way we utilize cloud infrastructure?”
Each organization may choose to set and measure a different set of KPIs per the nature of their business. Those can vary between organizations and even between the organization departments. Those can include measuring infrastructure costs per unit (CPU, storage, etc.) or the Cost of a Business transaction (cost for processing a online purchase transaction, cost for processing an ad request and so on). Additional information about measuring cloud transformation success with new KPIs can be found in my recent blog post.
4. Gain visibility
One of the objectives of the CCoE is to monitor your organization’s spend, ensure efficiency and establish governance policies. Well… “how can we achieve those objectives without visibility into our infrastructure?”
Gaining visibility into your infrastructure cost, usage and performance is a critical step in enabling your CCoE team. You can achieve this by adopting a cloud service management platform such as CloudHealth. Two unique features of the CloudHealth platform are Perspectives and policies. CloudHealth reports are created with the ability to view dynamic, business groups known as Perspectives (per department, budget code, cost center, project, owner, etc.). Leveraging Perspectives will provide each stakeholder in your organization the visibility into the cloud cost and usage per the stakeholder interest.
In addition to breaking up your cloud cost and usage data into Perspectives, you can create policies to track your cost and usage automatically to identify specific scenarios and trigger actions. Those can be used for identifying cost anomalies, over provisioning, tracking spend against budget and more.
5. Empower your team
No one in the world can run a successful cloud transformation without the support of motivated and empowered teams. The team around you is the key for your success. They know your business, your applications, what works well and what needs to be improved. Empowerment may have a different meaning to each team, as one team will need to acquire new technological expertise, one will need to learn the specific pricing model of the cloud provider, and one may require a new solution like CloudHealth for ongoing operations. Once empowered, you may be surprised by the level of engagement and motivation your team will show, and how they will all strive together towards a successful cloud transformation.