Main image of article Accelerate Cloud Adoption by Creating a Cloud Enablement Engine

Cloud training accelerates adoption by first enabling a core team of experts within the enterprise and, later, by scaling proficiency to the entire organization. However, ensuring that cloud skills are adopted throughout the enterprise requires something more: The transformation of individual expert knowledge into organizational knowledge. 

Muralidhar Narahari, director of engineering and retail commerce at Nike, explains: “As part of our journey to the cloud, we took an active role in creating a culture of sharing what we learned, both internally and externally. Creating best practices and tools for all to leverage is important for us, given the size of our technology teams.”

Organizations need to create sharing mechanisms that build on current knowledge while incorporating the new. That’s where Cloud Enablement Engines (CEEs) come in. 

What are CEEs?

CEEs—also known as Cloud Centers of Excellence or Cloud Enablement Teams—comprise small teams of cloud experts, drawn from different roles within the organization—such as developer, network engineer, database administrator, or security or finance expert. They are dedicated to evangelizing and institutionalizing best practices and frameworks and managing the organization’s leap to the cloud.

Embracing the cloud as an “enablement engine” necessitates a shift in focus toward technology at almost all levels of the business operations. CEEs help manage this change as the single owner for the organization’s initiatives, maintaining certainty and efficiency at every stage of the journey.

Building a successful CEE can be separated into five phases:

  1. Establishing the core team
  2. Training and coaching
  3. Advancing the pilot project
  4. Architecting for the cloud 
  5. Operating in the cloud

Once the CEE has been functioning for about a year or more, its focus will shift to continuous improvement and driving innovation. CEEs can be best thought of as catalysts for continuous cloud education, with the core team acting as influencers and internal mentors.

Powering CEEs: The Structure of the Core Team

The CEE core team is instrumental in ensuring that the organization’s cloud adoption is handled correctly. The team should be small and diverse to simply the process of developing a holistic point of view on how the cloud can be responsibly implemented throughout the organization. Ideally, these individuals are also eager to leverage the cloud to transform the current operational infrastructure.

Initially, the core team’s focus will build the best practices, governance, and frameworks that the organization can leverage when implementing the cloud. This emphasis on codification ensures consistency and efficiency in how the cloud strategy is executed. It is also important for the core team to build a foundation to successfully share cloud knowledge. This can be done by building a dedicated cloud web portal for training, identifying training gaps and creating training plans. 

Advancing Toward Organizational Knowledge 

Successful cloud adoption requires constant dissemination of the core team’s acquired skills to people across the organization. In other words, your experts’ knowledge becomes your organization’s knowledge. While the mentors, champions, and key enablers of cloud awareness and knowledge remain essential to the success of your initiatives, these CEE core team members need to identify and support other stakeholders as partners.

The organization’s internal corporate training arm is one such partner in this effort to scale knowledge continuously. Working alongside these corporate trainers, the CEE core team can identify training resources to support the delivery of the initial training. 

Training and Education Resources

The CEE core team should ensure that the training requirements of the organization cover the complete spectrum of training and education. These requirements include mass awareness, digital and classroom training, certifications, custom workshops and real-time training.

The CEE core team should ensure that the training requirements of the organization cover the complete spectrum of training and education. These requirements include mass awareness, digital and classroom training, certifications, custom workshops and real-time training.

  • Mass awareness: This initiative can take many forms, such as lunch-and-learns, hackathons, summits, or experiential learning. The aim is to bring awareness of the cloud to the majority of the company at scale. Foundational level webinars are examples of content that can be leveraged to educate employees at all levels.
  • Digital and classroom training: Organizations can choose between digital and classroom training, depending on their needs. 
  • Certifications: Certifications, such as those provided by Amazon Web Services, validate an individual’s expertise and knowledge in the given domain and are mutually beneficial to both individuals and organizations. 
  • Custom workshops: These dedicated sessions are offered as in-depth foundational training for key technical areas such as migrations, security, networking, architecture fundamentals, and operating in the cloud.
  • Real-time training: This method focuses on equipping employees with the information they need, when they need it. 

Training Your Leaders

In addition to training technical employees, training executives is another critical step. Executives need to understand the potential impact of the cloud’s capabilities, services, processes, and tools to provide effective support and guidance for their departments. 

By linking the business with technology-based outcomes, executives can gain increased visibility into how the infrastructure is driving value. These outcomes are important in setting or reinforcing the rules and guidelines for incorporating the cloud into the traditional operational architecture. 

When done well, this partnership acts as a catalyst for broad cloud adoption, as it makes it easier for relevant stakeholders to relate the organization’s cloud processes to their individual and departmental responsibilities.

From Organizational Knowledge to Practice

Unquestionably, becoming a cloud-first enterprise is a significant and long-term endeavor, but it doesn’t have to feel intimidating or overly complex. By creating and empowering CEEs, enterprises can tame the uncertainty that accompanies change and transform it into a competitive strength. These teams can be sources of continuous learning and an important component in spreading cloud fluency throughout the organization.

Babak Ghoreyshi is a digital transformation expert and a senior product marketing manager within Amazon Web Services Training and Certification, helping enterprises achieve their cloud transformation business outcomes by building cloud skills.