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The Importance of Having a Cloud Center of Excellence

By The Cloudability Team on May 23, 2018

The FinOps Journey:

(EDITORIAL NOTE – Annotated in 2019 to show this post’s role on the path to the FinOps cloud operating model.)

The Cloud Center of Excellence is just one name of many for a centralized team, including Cloud Business Office. However, the codification of the FinOps cloud operating model clarified what we should really be calling it: the FinOps Team. A FinOps team consists of technology, business and finance organizations who manage the cloud vendors and implement rate and discounting optimizations. It’s the evolution of the Cloud Center of Excellence, and a crucial part of achieving scalable cloud innovation with FinOps.

Find out more about FinOps by reading FinOps: A New Approach to Cloud Financial Management.


Operating in the cloud takes more than just telling your IT organization to migrate workflows and infrastructure over and calling it a day. It takes careful planning, financial and operational strategizing and preparation, and then the discipline and culture to operate cloud efficiently daily. As an IT leader, do you know how important a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) is to this mission?

What’s a Cloud Center of Excellence?

AWS’s Stephen Orban coined the term Cloud Center of Excellence, the fifth of seven steps in his Enterprise Cloud Journey series. It’s a very critical one as it is the blend of both strategic, cultural and operational practices that any modern IT organization must master to become successful during their move to the cloud and ultimately its day-to-day operation.

Why Is Having a CCoE so Important to Cloud-focused IT Organizations?

In IT parlance, a CCoE could also be considered the DevOps team of an organization. In some organizations, it’s the central team concerned with educating and holding other IT teams compliant to cloud optimization practices. What all of these teams have in common is adhering to these key principles of a CCoE:

Let’s take a closer look at each of these principles.

Principle 1: Building the Right Kind of Team

In our experience working with IT organizations from around the world, from cloud-native to large enterprise-scale teams, we’ve seen all types of Operations, Engineering and Finance roles (and hybrids of each) succeed at optimizing cloud utilization while keeping costs low.

The best DevOps teams know that it takes a balance of tools and teamwork (and culture) for DevOps practices to succeed. This is no different for building the right cloud excellence team. Find a blend of practitioners who want to hold the IT organization and relative business units accountable for costs, teach them how to best utilize cloud and lock in the lowest cloud rates and you’re off to a great start.

Note: Some organizations put such an emphasis on cost saving measures that they call their center a “Cloud Cost Center of Excellence.” Learn more about how to build financial agility with a cloud strategy in this free e-book.

See how our customers Atlassian and HERE Technologies think about cloud excellence and its sustainability in this talk from AWS re:Invent 2017. Neither of our customer advocates may have deep engineering roles, but they represent the kind of management skill, forward thinking and know-how that is needed for members of a CCoE to succeed.

Principle 2: Scoping and Growing the Team’s Responsibilities

This part of Orban’s recommendation is critical, as you can’t scope and grow the types of skills and responsibilities required for CCoE success without technology. Migrating to the cloud and operating it as efficiently as possible requires the analysis of hundreds of thousands to millions of cost and usage data points – a task not meant for humans alone. Using a cloud management platform allows a CCoE to regulate and manage cost governance, role-based access, cost and usage monitoring, reporting, rightsizing and other key cloud optimization activities.

Having the ability to reference data historically and predict trends via a Cloud Financial Strategy is a way to scope and grow cloud responsibilities from a financial point of view. Building the type of cloud rightsizing muscle with a data engine focused on cloud optimization is a way to keep utilization in check, even at scale. These are the kinds of responsibilities that a CCoE must uphold for all parts of its IT organization.

Principle 3: Empowering the Team to Teach and Uphold its Best Practices

According to Orban, CCoE teams should weave into others to share skills and insights to help each team as well as the entire organization collectively succeed on the cloud. We want to empower teams to take this step further by having the right views and data analysis catered to specific roles, from Engineering Leads all the way to Line of Business Owners, even to Executives. Embracing more experimentation on the cloud and compliance of cloud cost and efficiency best practices requires having the right data and analysis to promote ideal behaviors.

Using a cloud management platform to support this proliferation of information and best practice is key to sharing these insights without compromising the security or integrity of your cloud.

Starting up Your CCoE

To recap, these are the three key steps to building your own CCoE:

These principles are easily built and enforced with a cloud management platform (like Cloudability) at hand. The kinds of role-based access to cloud cost and utilization data makes it easy for cloud-forward teams to maintain the integrity of their overall cloud strategies while also eliminating any kind of “analysis paralysis” by providing the right kinds of insights and making them easily accessible. Executive sponsorship and support is much easier to obtain and retain when you have dashboards and benchmarking catered to specific roles. These dashboards can easily show how well your initiatives are working and how much they cost and/or save the business.

For a market-leading experience to support your CCoE, check out a free trial of Cloudability today.

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