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Driving Change through Cloud Centre of Excellence

13/02/2019

Driving Change through Cloud Centre of Excellence

Date Released:13 Feb 2019

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This is the eighth piece in a series of blogs by Phuah Aik Chong, Astro Chief Technology Officer

In my previous article, I have covered how we constantly stay aligned with our customers' desires, and how we remove internal organisational barriers and apply lessons learnt along the way including leveraging on Agile to transform. In this article, I will be sharing one of our success stories of mindset change that influenced our organisation culture within Astro, especially in collaboration between business and technology.

We built a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE) this year, to ensure we adopt the best cloud related practices throughout the organisation, and to allow us to continuously iterate and improve our products and services to serve our customers better.

Like other large enterprises with a complex business and technology landscape, Astro was structured around functional verticals in our practice of IT operating models. However, this made it difficult to adopt product management approach in the organisation and to embrace methods such as Service Team, DevOps, coordination of resources across verticals and resulted in an over reliance on processes (see Astro Service Team and DevOps adoption details here). To address the challenges around the multiple technology streams (DevOps, Architecture, Operations, Security) working in silos, we decided to converge the four streams into one single consolidated backlog under the CCoE. The Astro CCoE becomes the vehicle to drive Cloud adoption and maturity of Cloud Services within Astro by embracing three key tenets of: being Customer Focused, Experimentation Driven, and to Simplify and Automate our technology estate.

Creating a culture of technology transformation through Cloud Centre of Excellence

With these critical tenets, we brought together some of the best engineers across the organisation into the CCoE to spearhead this initiative and iteratively influence the rest of the organisation. With Amazon Web Services (AWS) Professional Services engagement, we designed the CCoE to focus on delivering cloud benefits via the effective use of the cloud platform and providing prescriptive advice to the application teams through reusable assets, standards, integration frameworks and processes as one consolidated cross-functional team.

By enabling Agile/Scrum culture as a core principle, the CCoE team adopts an iterative approach with repeated phases every 90 days to deliver small and quick wins and learn for the next. At the start of each sprint within a phase, they run through sprint planning and review sessions amongst the team members to discuss the most urgent and impactful user stories to work on during the sprint as a self-organised cross functional team. They are given the authority to decide on what to do and to act on those decisions. We have observed that the consensus model of decision making with discussions around different points of view increases the general understanding of the whole team, resulting in higher quality information and better decisions. They fully understand the responsibility we place on their shoulders by empowering them in the decision making.

What have we achieved for the first 90-day of CCoE?

In the first phase, the CCoE sponsors and CCoE team identified three applications from both business and technology perspectives. We worked with business units to find a few innovative and revenue generating first-mover applications that have needs for continuous iterations. We expected the CCoE team to accelerate delivery and promote experimentation within Astro. By having the small number of applications for the first phase of transformation, they were able to experiment at speed, and fail-fast without having to deal with the possibility of large magnitude of collateral damages in the event of failed experiments.

The CCoE objectives developed are measurable and contain key performance indicators that can be used to assess the success at the end of each phase. We identified three metrics to use where technology has to be developed, integrated and adapted into solutions - Operational Efficiency, Operational Availability, New Features per release cycle and Security Compliance. These measure the success of the technology transformation and validate the value of the programme from multiple perspectives.

The CCoE team decided on Efficiently run Operations in order to deliver consistent and high-quality services to our customers, and to continually improve the customer experience by providing automated technologies. We can quantify productivity gains by the amount of time they have helped the application teams to save. By doing this analysis, we could determine whether we are succeeding in working efficiently and cost-effectively.

Operational Availability is a key performance indicator of CCoE where we aim to achieve the highest percentage of improvement possible. The CCoE team focused on defining and validating the architecture governance structure based on business impact with clear R&R and processes. Along with the architecture governance structure, we have also redefined the Cloud Operations processes including change management, Incident/Event management, etc. in order to address the increasing use of Agile development and the need to drive adoption. A key point of the reinvented operation processes is to turn the operation from a sequential, event-driven process to one that is outcome-driven by adopting a trust-but-verify stance with respect to DevOps delivery of applications. By having well architected framework as part of our governance, automated operation processes and application monitoring toolset, we were able to ensure at least 99.99% uptime for all cloud applications.

The CCoE team also focused on delivering
LINK: https://www.astro.com.my/mediaroom/articledetails.aspx?id=844&title=dr...
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