CCoEs are helping states make the leap into the cloud

We don’t want to burden your brain with another acronym, but if you’re working in the public sector CCoE is one you may soon need to know. The term refers to Cloud Centers of Excellence, which are springing up in states across the country to facilitate the transition of public services from old mainframe hardware to cloud-based infrastructure.

The strategy is one already well known in enterprise circles and endorsed by Gartner. The latter touted CCoE’s as a centralized hub through which business and government entities alike can set cloud and security policies, guide workload placement and help create solution architectures. If you associate one word with CCoE’s, it should be “governance.”

As state agencies – think health and social services, law enforcement, public safety and other entities – transition to the cloud, keeping everyone on the same page and addressing issues like security concerns can be a challenge. That’s where the CCoE comes in.

Several states have already begun building or have plans to stand up CCoEs, including Arizona, Georgia, Ohio and North Carolina.

Suzanne Aron, a cloud architect with North Carolina’s Department of Information Technology, told Silverlinings the state has spent the past several months establishing the framework for its CCoE.

According to Aron, the state initially intends to use its CCoE to establish governance and security policies for state agencies, provide cost models for cloud deployments and cost monitoring tools, and offer a suite of vetted solutions agencies can roll out via self-service. These pre-approved and pre-built solutions will allow agencies to avoid red tape usually associated with government procurement and deployment processes.

Of course, that’s a bit easier said than done given the state is taking a multi-cloud approach.

“We allow the customer to tell us which cloud they want to go into, which complicates matters quite a bit in terms of having pre-built [applications],” Aron said. “The idea is we have a significant amount of customers who have already migrated to the cloud and it’s basically looking at what can we identify that’s been reused over and over and let’s provide that as the solution for all the future customers that come in.”

That’s the initial goal, at least. Aron noted that once the CCoE has covered all the commonly used applications, it will then work on a process to prioritize development of new solutions to cater to unmet needs its agency customers might have either now or in the future.

Dean Johnson, Senior Executive Government Advisor at technology consultancy Ensono, told Silverlinings that centralized governance via a CCoE can also help break down siloes between state agencies – to the extent that privacy regulations allow.

“One of the challenges in the state of Georgia as well as every other state out there has been how do you take these disparate, siloed systems and share the data between them to get these systems to collaborate and at the same time maintain the integrity of those systems and meet the regulatory requirements of those systems,” he said. “There is a need to collaborate, there is a need to share data across communities of interest, whether it’s law enforcement, healthcare, insurance, whatever it is.”


Johnson also noted that somewhere in the realm of 44 out of 50 U.S. states still operate using legacy mainframe hardware. So, beyond the governance piece, upskilling and finding employees with knowledge that straddles the mainframe/cloud divide is also a challenge, Johnson said.

Again, CCoE’s can help.

“How do we get all the employees cloud ready, how do we transition their skillset to the cloud skillset? And as part of that CCoE, we have a community of practice for developing those training plans, training pathways,” she said.

Aron said North Carolina’s CCoE is exploring how it can use opportunities like shadowing and apprenticeships to allow existing employees to get the cloud skills they need by spending a few hours a week working on the cloud.

Something like that, of course, takes executive buy-in, which she said North Carolina has.

“People want to start using cloud, so we need to get all the workforce cloud ready. So, between training plans, training pathways and apprenticeships and shadowing opportunities we hope to bring the staff along,” she concluded.