Your Organization Needs A Cloud Steward

Rachel Dines
Sr. Director of Product Marketing
Nov. 13, 2017
4 minute read

Over the past few years, a new role has been emerging in many enterprise IT shops—the Cloud Steward who is responsible for cloud optimization and governance. CloudHealth Tech’s Chairman, Dan Phillips, wrote about this new role last year after speaking with many of the largest public cloud consumers worldwide. One of his primary observations coming out of the these conversations was the emergence of a new key organizational role focused on centralized governance. This position is becoming critical as the cloud evolves as a strategic component in a corporation’s IT infrastructure strategy.

What is this role called? It’s known by many names, from Cloud Custodian Engineer (a term coined by Drew Firment, who held that position at Capital One at the time), to Cloud Manager, Cloud Governance Chief, Cloud Optimization Manager and Cloud Steward. Gartner refers to it as a Cloud Cost Center of Excellence. Regardless of the name, these roles have a similar set of responsibilities: defining and managing cloud optimization in the enterprise. 

Learn more about establishing a Cloud Center of Excellence in order to grow your multicloud environment. 

At CloudHealth Tech, we typically refer to this role as the Cloud Steward. The Cloud Steward is a cross-functional individual who is responsible for the ongoing optimization and governance of the cloud infrastructure. They define and manage automated policies, analyze cost, usage, performance, and security across environments, and make recommendations on capacity planning, modeling, and forecasting.

As cloud management in the enterprise matures, it becomes more and more critical to have this centralized role who can work across operations, engineering, and lines of business (LOB) to ensure consistency, accountability, and efficiency. This can be a challenging role, especially in a distributed organization. The Cloud Steward must find the subtle balance of giving departments and LOBs the freedom to take advantage of all the benefits the cloud offers—ease of use, flexibility, and agility. But at the same time, ensure centralized governance to protect their corporate brand and drive efficiency.

In his original post, Dan put out a first draft of the job description for a Cloud Steward. I’ve expanded on it a bit, based on conversations with customers and other job descriptions I’ve read. Give it a read and let me know what you think!

Cloud Steward job description

The Cloud Steward is responsible for ongoing optimization and governance of cloud infrastructure. Typically, they report into IT infrastructure and operations teams, but are in a highly cross-functional role and will be the team lead for stakeholders across operations, finance, engineering, and LOBs. They must have experience in a technology leadership position with in depth knowledge around development lifecycles and Infrastructure (both public cloud and on-premises). In addition, experience driving organizational change and transformation, building services, and project management is highly desirable. Specifically, responsibilities include:

Cloud management and vision

  • Develop and execute on a clear documented process to ensure the entire loop from detection to closure is completed
  • Evaluate and recommend data integrations (cost, budget, usage, asset, configuration, performance, event logs, security, and revenue)
  • Evaluate capacity planning, modeling, and forecasting

Define cloud governance policies

  • Define and implement functional business groups called Perspectives (tagging, naming conventions, meta data, etc.)
  • Manage policy definition and implementation (cost, budget, usage, asset, configuration, performance, security, and revenue)

Report on cloud KPIs

  • Define and deliver reports across the business
  • Perform analyses, identifies recommendations, and optimization actions(cost and asset allocation, infrastructure rightsizing, reservation modeling, purchases and modifications, and underutilized/zombie infrastructure)
  • Review service level reporting (availability, performance, and response)

Read our whitepaper "Benchmark Your Cloud Maturity: A Framework For Best Practices" which goes more in depth about establishing a Cloud Center of Excelence in your company.