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Cloud Services Brokerage: Adding Trust and Oversight to Complex Cloud Deals

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According to the Gartner IT Glossary, “Cloud services brokerage (CSB) is an IT role and business model in which a company or other entity adds value to one or more (public or private) cloud services on behalf of one or more consumers of that service via three primary roles including aggregation, integration and customization brokerage”. The value of these brokerage services are fueling a major debate in industry and this month in BriefingsDirect, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, is contributing to the discussion with a timely podcast in which he moderates a discussion between Todd D. Lyle, President of Duncan, LLC and myself on the value of CSBs with an emphasis on small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), regional businesses, and government.

No two businesses have identical needs, and so specialized requirements need to be factored into the use of often commodity-type cloud services. An intermediary brokerage can help companies and government agencies make the best use of commodity and targeted clouds and not fall prey to replacing an on-premises integration problem with a cloud complexity problem.To learn more about the role and value of the specialist cloud services brokerage, please listen to the podcast below.


TRANSCRIPT

An excerpt from our conversation that focused on cloud service brokerages and government agencies is provided below.

Government agencies

Gardner: Kevin you’re involved more with government agencies. They’ve been using IT for an awfully long time. How is the adjustment to cloud for them? Is it easier, is it better, or is it just a different type of approach and therefore requires adjustment?

 

Jackson: Thank you for bringing that up. Yes, I’ve been focused on providing advanced IT to the federal market and Fortune 500 businesses for quite a while. The advent of cloud computing and cloud services brokerages is a double-edged sword. At once, it provides a much greater agility with respect to the ability to leverage information technology. But, at the same time, it brings a much greater amount of responsibility, because cloud service providers have a broad range of capabilities. That broad range has to be matched against the range of requirements within an enterprise, and that drives a change in the management style of IT professionals. You’re going more from your implementation skills to a management of IT skills. This is a great transition across IT, and is something that cloud services brokerages can really aid.  

 

 

Gardner: Todd, it sounds as if we’re moving this from an implementation and a technology skill set into more of a procurement, governance, contracts, and creating the right service-level agreements (SLAs). These are, I think, new skills for many businesses. How is that coaching aspect of a cloud service’s brokerage coming out in the market? Is that something you are seeing a lot of demand for?
Lyle: It’s customer service, plain and simple, and we hear about it all the time, but we also pass it off all the time. You have to be accessible. If you’re a 69-year-old business owner and embracing a technology from your demographic, it’s going to be different than if you are 23 years old in the approach that you take to that person
As we all get more tenured, we’ll see more adaptability to new technologies in a workplace, but that’s a while out. That’s the 35 and younger crowd. If you go to 35 and above, it’s what Kevin mentioned — changing the culture, changing the way things are procured within those cultures, and also centralizing command. That’s where the brokerage or the exchange comes into place for this. Did I answer your question?
Gardner: Yes. One of the things that’s interesting to me is that a lot of companies are now looking at this as not just as a way of switching from one type of IT, say a server under a desk, to another type of IT, a server in a cloud.
It’s forcing companies to reevaluate how they do business and think of themselves as a processmanagement function, regardless of where the services reside. This also requires more than just how to write a contract. It’s really how to do business transformation at a certain level.
Does that play into the cloud services brokerage? Do you find yourselves coaching companies on business management?
Jackson: Absolutely. One of the things cloud services is bringing to the forefront is the rapidity of change. We’re going from an environment where organizations expect a homogenous IT platform to where hybrid IT is really the norm. Change management is a key aspect of being able to have an organization take on change as a normal aspect of their business.
This is also driving business models. The more effective business models today are taking advantage of the parallel and global nature of cloud computing. This requires experience, and cloud services brokerages have the experience of dealing with different providers, different technologies, and different business models. This is where they provide a tremendous amount of value.

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Cloud Musings

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