3 Signs It’s Time Your Company Establish a Cloud Center of Excellence

By Florence Tadjer and David Pool, ISSI Senior Consultants
A Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) is an organizational structure that owns and drives cloud strategy within a company. For managed service providers (MSPs), having a CCoE can be a requirement to achieve hyperscaler MSP certifications or to maintain MSP ranking status. More importantly, a CCoE demonstrates you take your cloud strategy seriously. If your organization is experiencing these common pain points, it is a sign that it’s time to establish a CCoE and accelerate your enterprise’s cloud strategy.

Stalled growth / difficulty scaling business

In a “post-pandemic” world where employees and employers must find what their new normal looks like, it can feel for many like business has been at a relative standstill, or has become muddled, with no major growth path in sight. It can be difficult to identify the areas of growth that should prioritized to continue scaling the business. Addressing and standardizing your company’s approach to cloud is an excellent place to start because it touches every part of the business and can continue to jumpstart growth in other areas.

By establishing a CCoE, companies can put in place a tangible roadmap on how to leverage cloud tools to scale and meet business goals. Organizations may have already established a cloud advisory board, but this only drives the “why” behind cloud strategy by aligning the executive team on cloud priorities. A CCoE is the “how” that supports the execution and extension of cloud services and capability sets and helps map and pace continuous proficiencies and skills acquisition. A CCoE enables innovation, scale and efficiencies in the design, delivery, and support of cloud services within the business. In this way, a CCoE truly drives business results.

Additionally, having a CCoE can be a requirement to gain or maintain MSP ranking status. Even if this is not yet a priority for your business, or one you anticipate in the near future, a CCoE is like establishing the cloud proficiency backbone on which the business is built. Such a key pillar of the business and IT infrastructure can be more difficult to shore up retroactively, which is why it is better not to wait. It is critical for a next-generation managed service provider to build and maintain a CCoE to enable leveraging of best practices across the organization and across the breadth of its offered services.

If you plan to stay in the MSP business, public cloud certifications are going to be crucial eventually; and a CCoE is a requirement to achieve AWS — which currently holds 34% of the cloud computing market — and Microsoft certified MSP status.

Siloes / lack of cross-team collaboration

Many businesses still rely on IT departments headed by the CIO to manage the company’s cloud services. Sound familiar? This business structure made a lot more sense 20–30 years ago than it does today. In 2022, the cloud touches every part of modern business to varying degrees and is often the driving force behind a company’s services, operational capacity, and research and development prospects.

It is unrealistic to expect a CIO to manage every facet of cloud strategy without visibility into all areas of the business, much less decision-making power across teams. Even so, when things go wrong, it is the CIO who is held responsible. This is just one reason why having a CCoE to back up the CIO — and the company’s overarching cloud strategy — is vital. A CCoE aligns teams and resources at the company-wide level, driving better visibility for oversight, as well as more collaboration and efficiency. The CCoE serves as a standardizing governing force to which all departments can refer back for guidance and best practices in making cloud strategy decisions.

Identifying the root of siloes or lack of cross-team collaboration can be difficult: misaligned cloud strategy is one invisible threat that can impact even the most tight-knit of teams. Many employees outside of IT still view the cloud as it was 10 years ago — and with a CCoE, that’s okay. The CCoE becomes the equalizing force of cloud understanding and approach for all departments within an organization, taking the guesswork out of cloud capability and strategy for everyone —and reducing the burden on the CIO. CCoE reflects a broad cross-section of complementary skills and perspectives.

Difficulty recruiting and retaining cloud talent

If your business is considering accelerating its cloud growth strategy, you’re not alone. In 2022, due largely to the shift to remote functionality the COVID-19 pandemic required of the world, approximately 94% of enterprises now use cloud. In fact, in 2020 alone, 61% of businesses migrated their workloads to the cloud. 

That has spurred a huge cloud talent demand — one that enterprises are struggling to fill. Particularly specialized positions such as cloud architects, data engineers, and solution architects are niche and difficult to source. With every business in need of cloud expertise, it has created an employee’s market where enterprises are in fierce competition to land — and retain — cloud talent. One key differentiator that will stand out in such a demanding market is being a business that has established a CCoE.

A CCoE proves a commitment to cloud growth and excellence within a company because it requires buy-in from the executive team and alliance across all departments. A CCoE supports the cloud professionals within an organization. Without one, the demands placed on cloud professionals (and the level of expertise and headcount required to meet said demand) may be beyond what is realistic — a red flag to potential hires and a major contributor to talent turnover. This is another reason to consider implementing a CCoE early on. It is much easier to bring cloud talent into an enterprise with a clear cloud strategy and demonstrable proof of commitment to that strategy than it is to recruit for an undefined or ill-defined position that may come with a lot of hidden operational baggage.

For managed service providers (and just about every other modern venture), cloud prowess increasingly touches every part of the business — from security to planning and strategy to talent management to customer success. If your organization is experiencing any of the common pain points outlined here, it is a sure sign that it’s time to deploy as CCoE. Don’t wait until it is required to get serious about proactive cloud strategy; it may already be holding back your business.

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