- Cloud Essentials
- Software as a Service
- Accounting / Financial
- Asset Management
- Business Intelligence
- Business Process Management
- Compliance & Risk Management
- Content Management
- Document Management
- Help Desk Management
- IT / Application Management
- Project Management
- Transportation & Logistics
- Infrastructure as a Service
- Platform as a Service
Cloud computing can save you money -- but it can also end up costing a lot too, especially in intangibles such as management time.
Cloud computing can save you money -- but it can also end up costing a lot too, especially in intangibles such as management time. And few organisations will find that a single cloud provider delivers everything they need, so the number of cloud services to which each organisation subscribes, as well as the number of providers, is also likely to grow. Not only does each relationship need to be managed, those services need to be integrated into a seamless whole and, if necessary, modified to fit your requirements.
This is where a cloud services broker can add value. Research firm Gartner describes the task of cloud brokerage as "negotiating relationships between providers of cloud services and the service customers", with the broker bringing "software, appliances, platforms or suites of technologies that enhance the base services available through the cloud." You can expect a broker to manage "access to these services, providing greater security or even creating completely new services."
One advantage of using a broker -- and of choosing the right one -- is that they already have experience of and relationships with a number of cloud providers, and are likely to be able to get you up and running with a new service faster than if you were starting from scratch.
In practice this means that, over time, organisations will find themselves needing to move data and processes between different cloud providers' infrastructures. Right now, there are few standards that allow you to do that easily. And Gartner sees demand for an ability to deliver strong integration across multiple cloud IaaS offerings, so these are two key areas where a cloud broker can earn their salt.
The number of brokers is growing, and now includes among its numbers Dell and BT, who bundle white label cloud services together with their own services. Given that they have brands to protect, you should expect from them and, from other brokers, robust service level agreements (SLAs) that make it clear where responsibility for services delivery lies, and what happens in the event of delivery failure.
But a cloud broker's services can go beyond those of a cloud provider, so an SLA may well be needed to cover them too. For example, the broker could be ensuring regulatory compliance, and managing security and disaster recovery, and be bundling a service that includes all of them. In this case, the broker will need to draw up and agree a comprehensive SLA covering all the services delivered to you, backed by separate SLAs with the sub-contractors who actually deliver the services.
A cloud services broker's job is to lift the cost of management from you, the end user, so you may be able to negotiate an SLA that covers management time, which will help you ensure that you are getting a good return on the investment in the broker's services.
As the volume cloud services and providers grow, the need for some form of brokerage is also likely to grow. While they bring experience, relationships and SLAs to the table, just make sure that they bring savings with them too.