What is a cloud center of excellence (CCoE)?

A Cloud Center of Excellence centralizes IT cloud-adoption and governance, acting in an advisory capacity and driving IT transformation in business.

To reshape and optimize businesses for the modern world, digital transformation must be truly transformative—encompassing every aspect of the organization. But with so many moving parts, it can be challenging to ensure proper coordination across the various business units. This is especially true when it comes to moving on-premises infrastructure and applications to the cloud. Without clear practices, universal standards, and complete collaboration between teams, the adoption of a cloud operating model may be more than simply disruptive; it can become detrimental to achieving essential company goals. 

To address these challenges, organizations are turning to cloud centers of excellence (CCoE). A CCoE is an entity within the organization, usually composed of a team or set of teams, responsible for supporting, managing, and coordinating optimal cloud adoption practices across the enterprise. This helps provide a structured approach to cloud adoption and management. Deployed correctly a CCoE makes it possible for the organization to address cloud-adoption challenges as they arise, accelerating and enhancing the company’s digital transformation in the process.

Although cloud centers of excellence all operate under essentially the same mandate—to enable and improve cloud adoption initiatives through centralized cloud governance function and support—the specific form each CCoE takes depends on the needs of the business.  

Most organizations find that their cloud-adoption needs are best met using one or more of the following CCoE types:

Advisory CCoE

Advisory CCoE is most focused on providing strategic guidance to business units, including assessing and selecting cloud providers, defining governance policies, and managing cloud costs. These CCoEs work closely with business unit leaders to align cloud strategy with business objectives and are well-suited for organizations that have a centralized IT structure and require a more consultative approach to cloud adoption.

Functional CCoE

Providing technical expertise to the business units in the process of adopting cloud services, functional CCoE teams are responsible for setting technical standards, creating and enforcing policies, and training the organization on cloud best practices. This type of CCoE is suited for organizations that have a decentralized IT structure and require a more tactical approach to cloud adoption.

Prescriptive CCoE

Finally, prescriptive CCoE offers structure to cloud adoption. This type of CCoE typically has a set of predefined processes and procedures that organizations must follow when adopting the cloud. Prescriptive CCoEs are often used in highly regulated industries where compliance is critical and require a more rigorous approach to cloud adoption.

Ultimately, the key to successful cloud adoption is to have a clear understanding of the business's needs and goals, and to work closely with the correct CCoE to support those goals. 

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Cloud centers of excellence are becoming increasingly popular among organizations across a range of industries. This is because the governance, transparency, and coordination offered by CCoEs brings with them a number of clear business advantages. These include:


Given the complexity of cloud adoption, it is vital that organizations create a uniform, coordinated strategy. By implementing a structured approach to cloud adoption, CCoEs help ensure that all business units within the company follow the same processes and procedures. This helps eliminate potential errors while ensuring that everyone involved is adhering to cloud-adoption best practices. Additionally, CCoEs align cloud solutions with the organization's overall business objectives.


In cloud adoption, every action should be intentional, economical, and effective. CCoEs promote increased efficiency by optimizing cloud usage and providing a central point of contact for cloud adoption and management. This helps reduce the time and effort required to manage cloud solutions while also improving task accuracy.


Going hand in hand with increased efficiency, the right CCoE can free up IT teams to focus on other critical, strategic tasks. This allows organizations to reach their goals more quickly. Additionally, CCoE initiatives provide clear, streamlined processes for teams and departments to follow, reducing lag time, eliminating bottlenecks, and cutting down on wasted effort.

Reduced Costs

Finally, CCoEs can also lead to cost savings, providing a structured approach to cloud adoption and management. This helps organizations avoid expensive mistakes while ensuring that cloud solutions are aligned with the overall business objectives. Additionally, CCoEs provide reliable governance and promote effective communication, reducing the associated costs of working within the cloud environment.

Cloud centers of excellence have the potential to enhance cloud adoption and help companies of all sizes get more out of the technology they rely on. That said, implementing a CCoE takes careful planning and intentional execution. Organizations that wish to build a CCoE should consider the following steps: 

  • Define goals and objectives
    Before deploying a CCoE, the organization must first determine what they hope to achieve by establishing a CCoE (improving cloud adoption, reducing costs, etc.). Ensuring that the goals for the CCoE align with the overall business objectives helps keep everyone focused.
  • Identify stakeholders
    Because cloud adoption is a major part of digital transformation, and digital transformation has the capacity to touch every part of a business, there will likely be many different stakeholders to consider (including business units, IT teams, and cloud service providers). Decision makers must identify these stakeholders and ensure that each one is fully up to speed on the CCoE business case, purpose, and goals.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities
    With the goals clarified and the stakeholders on board, the next step is to assemble the CCoE team itself. The team should be small enough to act quickly and decisively but large enough to include representatives from management, IT, end users, and other core functions. Job titles for CCoE team members may include IT manager, cloud architect, systems architect, database administrator, security architect, app developer, cloud engineer, and network engineer. Individual team members that represent broad skill sets are extremely valuable.
  • Establish governance policies and procedures
    Once the team is assembled it is time to establish the procedures and policies the CCoE will follow. These should outline how the CCoE will operate, including how decisions are to be made, how communication should be managed, and more. This includes developing best practices for cloud adoption and management based on industry standards but tailored to specific needs of the organization.
  • Provide training and support
    Although stakeholders will naturally bring their expertise with them to the CCoE, knowing how to effectively apply those skills to operate as a team will demand some training. Organizations must be capable of providing that training to ensure that all stakeholders have what they need to effectively implement CCoE policies and procedures.
  • Monitor and adjust
    Finally, it’s important that the organization not allow the CCoE to stagnate. Monitoring the CCoE's performance and adjusting policies and procedures as needed will help keep everything fully aligned with established business objectives for years to come.

As previously addressed, an effective cloud center of excellence demands tight, clear collaboration between various departments, teams, and IT resources. With this in mind, most CCoE models will need to include these functions as part of their core structure:

Cloud adoption

Responsible for guiding solution architects and technical teams in adopting cloud solutions, this involves assessing business needs, identifying cloud use cases, selecting appropriate cloud services, and developing migration plans to ensure a smooth transition to the cloud.

Cloud strategy

This function focuses on establishing the business case for cloud adoption, setting cloud adoption goals, creating a cloud roadmap, and managing the program and project managers responsible for executing the cloud strategy.

Cloud governance

Cloud governance is most responsible for ensuring that the cloud solutions deployed by the organization meet all regulatory and compliance requirements. This includes creating policies, establishing procedures, setting standards for cloud usage, monitoring cloud usage, and managing cloud-related risks.

Cloud platform

This function manages the cloud infrastructure and services used by the organization. It involves selecting and configuring cloud services, managing cloud accounts, and providing support for cloud users.

Cloud automation

This function automates the deployment, configuration, and management of cloud resources. It involves developing scripts, templates, and workflows to automate cloud tasks and improve efficiency.

Cloud adoption represents a major change for any organization, more on cloud adoption here. As with any change, this means that there will be hurdles CCoE teams will need to overcome. Simply put, implementing and operating a cloud center for excellence can be difficult. Here, we identify some of the more common challenges that might stand in the way of creating an effective CCoE.

Insufficient executive support

Without the support and backing of top-level executives, stakeholders may have trouble getting the resources and funding needed to establish a CCoE. Lack of executive support can also lead to lack of buy-in from other departments and teams, hampering the development of a coherent cloud strategy across the organization.

Resistance to change

Change is essential, making it possible for companies to adapt to changing circumstances and expectations. But change is also difficult, and some employees may be resistant to new technologies or may fear how their jobs will be impacted by cloud adoption.

Lack of skills and expertise

Implementing and operating a CCoE requires a high level of technical expertise and specialized skills. Organizations may struggle to find the right people with the right skills to lead the CCoE, preventing them from building a successful cloud-adoption strategy.

Informational silos

Cloud adoption often involves multiple departments and teams. As such, silos and lack of collaboration can be a significant challenge. Different departments may have different priorities, processes, and toolsets, making it difficult to establish a cohesive cloud strategy across the organization.

Security and compliance concerns

Moving data and applications to the cloud naturally raises concerns about security and compliance. Organizations must ensure that their cloud solutions meet regulatory requirements and that their data is fully protected from unauthorized access.

Cloud adoption is a major aspect of digital transformation, and that makes it a top priority for businesses around the globe. But cloud adoption can also be challenging. To help ensure a successful transition, top companies rely on ServiceNow’s Cloud Excellence solution built on the industry defining Now Platform®, s a comprehensive solution that enables organizations to plan, scale, and operate the cloud. ServiceNow has a comprehensive set of capabilities to ease your journey to the cloud.

Plan app modernization

CTOs want to modernize apps but also prove the ROI of the cloud. Since many organizational processes lack automation and cross-enterprise visibility, they often see redundant apps running on-premises and cloud. They also fear not having the right risk metrics when transforming apps to the cloud. The first step is to shut down apps that you don't need. Apps are supported by underlying infrastructure resources such as hardware and software. Reclaiming unneeded infrastructure that supports apps being shut down helps recover the ROI that was originally desired.  

In addition, teams can track and manage cloud spend based on the right-sizing and business hour analysis. Teams can also estimate cost of moving licenses to the cloud allowing you to decide here you will save more money 

Scale cloud process with automation

Cloud Center of Excellence teams often ask us how we can provide self-service catalogs for their users. CCoE and the service operations team are a glue to enabling users to request cloud services based on standard policies utilizing a repeatable process and maintaining auditability. ServiceNow automates cloud requests, incident, and change management processes without slowing users down when requesting cloud services. Once these services are up and running, teams get complete visibility via tag-based service mapping and event-based discovery.

Operate cloud services

The number one question we get from Cloud Ops teams is how to operate cloud services and environments. Driving automation here is paramount, for example, with AIOps, which can automatically bring together data from on-prem and cloud sources to prevent service degradation. AIOps for the cloud integrates with monitoring tools such as Azure Monitor and AWS CloudWatch, correlating events, metrics, and logs to analyze them in a unified way, driving efficiency and some predictability in analyzing behaviors and patterns that might cause outages down the road. 

Teams can analyze configs and send alerts based on noticeable changes by integrating to DevOps tools. These alerts provide a much richer set of insights to act upon an issue. 

Security posture management is essential for cloud services' ongoing health and performance. We can provide OOTB configuration and security checks. But also integrate with other tools, such as Palo Alto Network's Prisma Cloud, for cloud-native security.

Learn more about IT Operations Management from ServiceNow, and support the team that supports your company’s digital transformation. 

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