GCP’s Cloud Adoption Framework

Having gone through both AWS and Azure’s Cloud Operating Model (COM) in our previous articles, we’ll take a look at how Google Cloud (GCP) approached it in this article. Similar to AWS and Azure, GCP have a well defined Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF). The difference is that both AWS and Azure have reserved dedicated sections for the COM and associated it with their CAF. But GCP haven’t got a dedicated section talking about the COM. Instead GCP have embedded the COM within their CAF.

In GCP’s CAF, they’ve brought up three key components, i.e. Theme, Epic and Phase. We’ll go through them to see how GCP covered the COM within these components.


Theme is a fundamental component in GCP’s CAF. GCP have defined four themes that form the foundation of cloud readiness.

  • Learn: The quality and scale of the learning programs you have in place to upskill your technical teams, and your ability to augment your IT staff with experienced partners.
  • Lead: The extent to which IT teams are supported by a mandate from leadership to migrate to cloud, and the degree to which the teams themselves are cross-functional, collaborative, and self-motivated.
  • Scale: The extent to which you use cloud-native services that reduce operational overhead and automate manual processes and policies.
  • Secure: The capability to protect your services from unauthorized and inappropriate access with a multi-layered, identity-centric security model. Dependent also on the advanced maturity of the other three themes.

GCP have associated these themes with the other two components, Epic and Phase respectively. To make the association visually easier, GCP have color coded these themes, as highlighted above. And these colors will appear in the diagrams in the following sections when we go through Epic and Phase.

Within these themes, we can’t tell any direct connection to the COM (details of the theme definition are available in GCP’s CAF Whitepaper). But if we use COM’s three commonly-agreed core components (i.e. People, Process and Technology) to map to these themes, we can see that there are some overlaps. For example, the Scale is talking about using cloud-native services to automate processes. It touches both technology and process. And when we talk about security, it often touches all three COM components. GCP have revealed these overlaps in more details when they associate themes with epics.


Again, a picture is worth a thousand words. GCP have grouped epics within three circles (i.e. People, Technology and Process) and mapped some of the epics to the four themes (i.e. Learn, Lead, Scale and Secure) in the diagram below.


On top of these “1000 words”, we need to append a few clarifications. Firstly, each word within these circles represents an epic. Talking about epics, you may think of the epics used in the Agile practice. Yes, they are the same.

Some people may ask why don’t we use people, process or technology as epic directly? It boils down to the overlapping parts as shown in the diagram. If we have a number of CI/CD related tasks. Should we put these CI/CD tasks under the technology epic or process epic? Neither will be ideal and we definitely don’t want to duplicate these tasks. The better way is to set CI/CD itself as an epic and flag this epic with the technology and process labels. This way it will make the planning easier and clearer.

Now the next question may be why some epics are not included in themes (e.g. the ones outside the four color coded areas)? GCP suggested that “If you can do only a subset of the epics, focus on the ones in the colored segments. Those are the epics that align with Learn, Lead, Scale, and Secure; and so those are the epics that will define your journey to successful cloud adoption.” Well, if it’s suggesting that the non-color-coded epics should not be on the initial focus list, it may trigger some concerns. Let’s keep reading and see if GCP explained it further in their Phase section.


GCP have defined three phases, Tactical, Strategic and Transformational, and aligned them with the maturity level of each theme, as shown below.

GCP CAF Phases

It provides a scale for organization to measure their overall cloud maturity as well as individual theme-level maturity. It also provides a direction and guidance for the short, mid and long-term target states. GCP have provided technical deep-dive information in Part 2 of their CAF Whitepaper. We won’t repeat the details here.

Now let’s go back to the epic question we raised earlier. Have GCP addressed the question about how to handle the epics that are outside of the four themes? The answer is yes. In Part 2 of the white paper, there is a dedicated section for the epics. GCP have answered the question as below:

For a lean approach, focus on the epics inside the four cloud adoption themes. For an enterprise-grade approach, you will likely want to explore all epics together.

In other words, these epics are more about “where we can start” instead of “where we must start”. The epics mentioned in the diagram shouldn’t be the exhaustive list either. Each organization have their own business model and cloud strategy. And these context can be translated into actionable programs of work following this framework.


By far we have gone through Azure’s Cloud Operating Model Framework, AWS’s Cloud Operating Model Framework, and GCP’s Cloud Adoption Framework here. They all have their ways to offer their framework and guidance. GCP haven’t specifically defined a COM but provided a practical guidance on how to get there by using their CAF.

Let’s use our car analogy (for the last time) to wrap up here. If we consider COM as a “car”, there are many “cars” that we can choose. Before we make a decision, we need to take a step back thinking what do we want to achieve. If the goal is to travel from point A to B, then how far is it? If it’s a short distance, maybe the economical type of “car” is a good choice. But if the distance is large and there are a lot to go through, then we may have to customize a “car”, or even use multiple “cars” to reach the target.

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About the Author: Richard Zhao

My name is Richard Zhao. I'm a solution architect and owner of cloudstudio.com.au. Having built knowledge bases for many companies, I'd like to use this cloud studio to share knowledge and ideas with wider people on the internet.

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