Becoming a cloud broker – the step by step approach
It isn’t a case of if or when you should become a cloud broker – it’s a question of how you become a cloud broker.
In today’s fast-paced world the typical IT executive is faced with multiple demands on their time and resources. They need to deploy new products and services, test them and make sure they work in harmony with the rest of the organization’s technology without disrupting existing systems and processes. This all takes time and is no easy task; business unit managers often see it as a bottleneck, something that prevents them from working with their usual agility and speed and delivering new services to customers.
What can then happen is business units and owners break from the fold and buy external solutions and as-a-service options themselves, cloud-based tools that let them remain agile and innovative – but this risks creating a disconnect in the organization. The traditional model of business units going to IT to build or buy a new technological tool or system is now very reminiscent of the dotcom era, but at the same time no CIO or IT department can possibly develop all the apps that the business demands – time is precious, good talent hard to find and shadow IT just a phone call away - so what to do?
The nature of cloud services means that business units and users can quickly access the solutions they need, for computing, storage or whatever, and pay only for what they consume – often leaving the IT department out of the loop altogether. If this sounds familiar it is not surprising, as it’s becoming increasingly common in business. The problem is though that organizations can end up fragmented, with multi-cloud environments added on an ad hoc basis creating confusion and not necessarily saving time and maximizing resources and agility as they are meant to. With possibly poor applications performance too you have the nightmare decision to troubleshoot or worry about security of your data.
It is here that the role of the corporate IT leader must change. Just as CIOs evolved from purely technical roles into business-centric and strategic positions, IT leaders must now think as a multi-faceted ‘service broker’, effectively a middleman who can quickly evaluate stakeholder need then specify and deliver the right application or service provider. The days of build versus buy are gone. But how do you become a cloud services broker?
Take the step by step approach
Step 1 – assess your workload. Being an effective cloud services broker requires a full understanding of what apps and services the organization is using and the resources needed to run them. So create a service catalog, keep it updated, stay on top of need and inventory and work with the company CFO to control expenditure.
Step 2 – cloud-categorize your workload. An effective cloud services broker must know what apps can run in what cloud. Some apps are serviced by SaaS, others deployed via public cloud, still others through hybrid or private cloud. So it’s important to be organized and ask questions; how sensitive is the data involved in an application? What security is required to meet regulatory compliance? What degree of interoperability is required? Which apps need to stay in-house and which can go public? Factor in Internet of Things (IoT), Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and data analytics in your thinking – and it is worth remembering, as I blogged previously, that IoT and private cloud can be a great match.
Also remember to balance up bimodal workloads between the traditional and as-a-service approaches. Also cloud may not be answer to some applications or workload. Your corporation’s BCP plays a big role in determining the place of workload as well. Remember to evaluate the performance of applications as well.
Step 3 – build a list of providers. Having cloud-categorized your workload and established what cloud model fits best with that element of the business, become a matchmaker. This means fitting workloads and projects to services, evaluating the benefits of multiple versus single provider and selecting then implementing the appropriate services. And while the multiple provider approach can deliver benefits, sourcing a single vendor does deliver more advantages:
- Interfaces: think consistent. Cloud systems should make users feel comfortable – so gain their buy-in with a trusted, practical system and give your project maximum chances of success.
- API – the single vendor approach gives your programmers a consistent API which they can seamlessly integrate without creating multiple data silos.
- Monitoring and performance– some cloud providers offer unnecessarily complicated dashboards and KPI indicators. So because you need good visibility of mission-critical apps and data, single cloud provider is the way to go.
- Support – clear lines of reporting ensure fast problem resolution.
Step 4 – Having matched services to your workload, move on to managing your provider(s). Keep track of everything – build up a scorecard to manage providers and create a centralized portal that helps you unify line-of-business user experience and satisfaction with cloud offerings.
In most of the cases business users already using various cloud service provider. How do you become Cloud Service Broker in that scenario? Well you can still use above mentioned steps. And migrate or consolidate your applications or workload to less cloud services providers utilizing above approach. By following this step by step approach you can ensure effective consolidation of existing cloud services as well as efficient procurement of new ones.
The cloud services broker model helps you help your organization – you can consider and evaluate many different providers and services and decide which are best. With this model you can unify various cloud services provider and manage them to make your business more agile. And at the same time you have transformed yourself into a trusted advisor and business enabler to your own organization.
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