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Creating and running a Cloud Centre of Excellence

Key Objectives

  • Design a new Centre of Excellence with clear vision and purpose.
  • A new operating model for the CoE delivered in 6 weeks.
  • Assembly of a consortium of experts from a wide range of suppliers
  • Leadership of the CoE to hit its aims and objectives.
  • Board and C-Suite communication on progress
  • Delivery of its first AWS platform for regulatory workload in 8 months
  • Permanent recruitment plans and delivery to reduce ongoing costs.

Section 01: How it started

In 2018 a large financial services UK-based organisation recognised that it urgently needed to accelerate the strategy for moving their technology to the cloud.  This was driven by the need to deliver value to its customers faster than in previous years, and to maintain competitive advantage in the marketplace.  At the same time, they needed to improve the level of information security, resilience of service and pace of innovation because of adopting public cloud environments. 

During 2019, we were asked to create and run a Cloud Centre of Excellence. It was constructed over a period of 8 months culminating with the release of its first product; an enterprise class, secure, Platform as a Service (PaaS) capability built on AWS suitable for financial service workloads.  A second platform utilising MS Azure fast followed on quickly in subsequent months to provide cross cloud resilience and exit strategies.

The platforms embraced many innovative concepts and featured continuous integration and delivery pipelines to ensure rapid change and automated security.  The platforms were ephemeral and therefore reduced the environment provision time from months to minutes for project teams across the company.

The rapid pace kickstarted a cultural shift within the organisation and demonstrated that it was possible to deliver enterprise class capabilities within a shorter timeframe than expected.

Section 02: What we did

It was imperative to quickly assemble a Centre of Excellence for this initiative.  To maintain focus, every area of discipline within the business appointed a lead to work within this structure.  This included disciplines such as finance, procurement, risk, security as well as technology practitioners.  The leads for those disciplines formed the leadership team of the Centre of Excellence.

Available internal capability was scarce within the company for delivering a large cloud programme at pace.  Therefore, a rapid assembly of external capability was assembled over a six-week period utilising large scale and niche suppliers, as well as independent contract staff.

Preferably an approach of “start small and scale later” would have been used, however the need to hit regulatory deadlines and the ambition of the organisation to catch up with competitors were main targets of the programme and therefore starting at scale became imperative.  To support the build and operation of public cloud environments and during that same 6-week period, the rapid creation of an operating model was essential to ensure all the moving parts could rapidly setup and move to action contributing to the overall purpose and mission for its first 12 months of operation.

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