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How cloud communities scale cloud transformation

Discover how to drive scalable cloud transformation with Cloud Centers of Excellence, Cloud Centers for Enablement, and Cloud Communities of Practice.

Aug 24, 2023 • 4 Minute Read

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  • Cloud
  • IT Ops
  • Engineering Leadership
  • Business
  • Learning & Development

It’s relatively easy to see how the underlying technology of your cloud migration is performing. You can monitor the number of workloads running in your public cloud environment, the performance of those systems, and the cost of your architectural decisions.   

But cloud technology can transition your organization only so far. Without your people and processes keeping pace, your cloud transformation will stall before the finish line. 

As you get started with a cloud transformation, it’s natural that your footprint of cloud technology and talent will be small. But as you accelerate in your cloud maturity, the path to maintaining consistency, cohesion, and control can collapse without a proper foundation. 

Regardless of where you are in your journey, each stage of cloud maturity relies on a cloud community within your organization to serve as a catalyst for your transformation.

Table of contents

What are the different types of cloud communities?

There are three types of communities cloud leaders can use to drive large-scale cloud transformation: a Cloud Center of Excellence, Cloud Center for Enablement, and Cloud Community of Practice.

What is a Cloud Center of Excellence?

A Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) is a formalized and dedicated team or department within your organization that establishes and maintains internal best practices, governance, and standards for your cloud transformation. 

Composed of cloud computing leaders in security, networking, architecture, training, and finance, this team acts as strategic advisors and drives your cloud initiatives. They combine their cross-functional expertise to establish the rules of the road and ensure cloud initiatives align with overall organizational objectives.

CCoEs are critical during the early stages of cloud adoption because they pave the way for what your organization does in the cloud—and how you do it. This community will:

  • Align cloud investments to business outcomes

  • Formalize the program structure

  • Build operational guardrails and best practices 

  • Determine KPIs to measure success

  • Establish the initial architecture and migration strategy

Pro tip: While the CCoE serves as the tip of the spear for your cloud transformation, it’s important that the expertise goes beyond the echo chamber of these early adopters. The CCoE must transition from a centralized team of experts to a federated and empowered workforce to avoid becoming an ivory tower.

What is a Cloud Center for Enablement?

After your CCoE defines cloud best practices, you’ll need to enable your people to actually use them. That’s where a Cloud Center for Enablement (C4E) comes in—they move your organization from consuming cloud services to creating business value with them.

A Cloud Center for Enablement (C4E) is a centralized group that builds cloud fluency at scale across an entire organization. While the CCoE is more focused on migrating applications to the cloud, the C4E focuses on migrating talent to the cloud.  

Through learning and development initiatives, they make sure all departments can use and consume cloud assets successfully. They also act as the liaison between non-technical and technical teams, making adjustments to best practices and procedures as teams develop new and better ways to use cloud systems. 

Ultimately, the C4E drives cloud skill development, creating the momentum necessary to break through the inertia of legacy practices and accelerate through the trough of despair. 

This community provides structured learning to ensure everyone:

  • Understands general cloud technology

  • Knows how cloud applies to their specific role and environment

  • Can connect their cloud skills and knowledge to business outcomes

Pro tip: Too often, cloud skills development is outsourced to HR and treated like another line item in the corporate learning management system (LMS). But given the significant technology investments into cloud computing and the steep learning curve, it’s essential to connect cloud enablement efforts to the CCoE. The process of learning should be aligned with the outcomes of doing.

What is a Cloud Community of Practice?

The next step in the evolution of cloud maturity is ensuring the efforts of the CCoE and C4E create a sustainable transition to the new operating model. You do that with a Cloud Community of Practice (CCoP).

A Cloud Community of Practice (CCoP) is a self-sufficient, cross-functional group of current or aspiring cloud experts who share resources, knowledge, and best practices about cloud computing. They’re highly invested in sustaining—and driving forward—the cloud community your organization has built.

CCoP leaders are often cloud experts who facilitate community by hosting meetings, maintaining projects, and bringing people together from across the organization. However, anyone with any level of cloud expertise can join the community.

The CCoP might:

  • Create weekly lunch and learn sessions

  • Collectively participate in a hands-on lab or cloud course (e.g., book club)

  • Provide speaking opportunities for people to share their knowledge

  • Encourage technologists to post blogs with the help of peer reviews

  • Host hackathons that encourage participation at all levels

Pro tip: One of the biggest organizational risks during the early stages of cloud adoption is losing existing cloud talent faster than you attract new talent. Creating a culture of cloud at scale increases retention (as birds of a feather flock together) and serves as an external recruiting beacon. Don’t be shy about curating blogs and conference talks from members of your cloud community and sharing them at external events and meetups.

How cloud communities work together

The evolution and alignment of your Cloud Center of Excellence, Cloud Center for Enablement, and Cloud Community of Practice serve as the foundation of your organization’s transformation from cloud consumers to creators. While each community provides value on its own, you’ll accelerate your transformation if you take an integrated and purposeful approach to your cloud communities.

The Cloud Center of Excellence is critical for leveraging their collective expertise to spearhead the transition from legacy practices to cloud-native architectures and methodologies. The Cloud Center for Enablement connects these technology decisions to the workforce through applied skills development. The Community of Practice ensures a sustainable transition with continuous learning and sharing of evolving knowledge.

Pro tip: The cloud is evolving rapidly with new services, practices, and approaches circulated weekly. While the early stages of cloud adoption rely on the experts in the Cloud Center of Excellence to guide the organization, it’s imperative that the larger community curates longer-term innovation. To succeed, it takes humility and servant leadership to transition the CCoE from the smartest department in the organization to a team that trusts and empowers its workforce. That’s the difference between a cloud migration and a cloud transformation.