To be able to talk about the Cloud Competence Centre model, a bit of background is needed. There’s usually a set of typical phases in a company’s Cloud Journey. You might start off with a few teams experimenting with cloud platforms for new application development, and, with the experiences gained from these projects, you can start planning how to move existing workloads to the cloud. As time goes by you realise that you’re running many different types of production workloads in the cloud with dependencies on each other and on-premise environments.
It’s quite typical at this point to realise that all these environments should be managed with a proper Governance Model. The cloud provides a wide set of tools to extract many of the things that required a lot of work in the past. This includes managed databases, managed load balancers, virtual networking etc. At the same time, the Cloud Platform itself has to be managed in some way and certain questions need to be asked. How do we design our AWS Account or Azure Subscription structure? How do we provide and monitor access to these environments? How is networking managed? Should we have a baseline for security components across the environments?
Managing a cloud platform requires ownership, typically seen in a Cloud Owner and a Cloud Steering Group. It also requires a centralised function to onboard cloud customers, do cloud platform development and maintain best practices for cloud deployments. Setting up a Cloud Competence Centre addresses exactly these needs.
What does a Cloud Competence Centre do?
A Cloud Competence Centre is a support function to increase developer productivity and maintain a consistent and secure cloud platform. The two key processes are Cloud Platform Development and Cloud Customer On-boarding. Cloud Platform development consists of setting up a Landing Zone and maintaining it. There’s requirement coming from development teams, Cloud Steering Group and the Cloud Competence Centre itself for shared services, security components, best practice architectures and template solutions. All of these are implemented and maintained by the Cloud Competence Centre.
Cloud Customer On-boarding is the process of introducing a development team to the Cloud Platform and making sure they follow best practices for architecture, security, and cost management. The Cloud Competence Centre also sets up any required accounts, networking and access for the team to quickly get started with the actual development.
What are the typical challenges in setting up a Cloud Competence Centre?
- There’s limited understanding on public cloud platforms and how to leverage them in the organisation
- As cloud is a new concept, it’s hard to figure out who owns it in the organisation
- The new function requires a budget to operate which can be hard to get
- Some development teams feel they can manage the platform themselves without the support of a Cloud Competence Centre
- A lot of projects are already running in the cloud without a proper governance model
How can you mitigate these challenges?
- Create a Cloud Governance Model early on in the Cloud Journey
- Make sure all stakeholders understand the importance of managing the cloud platform and supporting development teams
- Train the people on the benefits and new concepts of public cloud platforms
- Get support from a skilled partner to set up the Cloud Competence Centre working together with your own team
The key thing to keep in mind when setting up a Cloud Competence Centre is that it has to provide value to its customers (the development teams). The Cloud Competence Centre has to be very skilled in the selected cloud platform and also be able to communicate and document how to leverage the cloud. When you provide the teams a service that speeds up their work and makes their journey to the cloud easier, there will be less Shadow IT and more consistent, secure and automated environments across all business units.
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