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Cloud brokering: Enable IT and enable yourself

Insights_Guest on ‎11-06-2015 09:00 AM

By: Eric J. Bruno

 

Corporate IT is evolving to become the cloud brokering service to the enterprise. In this article, we'll focus on how the brokerage model reduces the operational costs associated with managing external vendors and increases efficiencies by relying on internal consultants (your IT personnel) rather than outside vendors.

 

IT has traditionally played the role of data center manager—procuring and upgrading infrastructure, maintaining system software, and maximizing uptime and stability. But as the adoption of the agile development methodology has created more disruption, more often, IT has increasingly been viewed as a bottleneck. Additionally, the exponential growth of corporate data and the value of big data analytics, the rise of virtualization and containerization, and the move to the cloud has forced IT into a business leadership role.

 

These combined forces have driven IT to play more of a consultative role than in the past. As an internal service provider—a role similar to a cloud service broker—the IT organization procures cloud services from multiple internal resources or external vendors, negotiates and manages IT contracts, aggregates and customizes these cloud services according to internal customer needs, and tracks them against consistent performance metrics.

 

A new role

As an internal service provider, the IT organization's focus shifts from a builder of services and related infrastructure to that of a consultant who evaluates line-of-business (LOB) and overall corporate requirements, and then provisions the best solutions accordingly.

 

There are multiple drivers of this change, and some of them have existed for quite some time. However, it's the combination of the following factors in particular that has shaped IT's new role:

  • The need for agility: Standing up servers and infrastructure, managing software deployments, and patching and maintaining systems are time-consuming and risky endeavors. Performing these duties on demand often translates to the business waiting for them to be done before deploying a customer solution. Additionally, offering a single set of preconfigured infrastructure often becomes too constraining to be useful for every LOB. In contrast, the cloud, with its readily available templates and application programming interfaces (APIs), enables teams to deploy workloads in minutes, rather than days. Today's requirement for rapid change has forced IT to find ways to become more agile.
  • Mobility: The back-end infrastructure requirements—both compute and storage—for mobile applications and their need for 24/7 performance have driven IT to support new service-level agreements (SLAs).
  • Big data: As growing volumes of data are captured from an increasing number of sources (mobile devices, customer metrics, the Internet of Things, and so on) demand for IT storage infrastructure and its overall availability has increased. Not only must this data be available and secure, it also needs to be analyzed in new ways. The resulting requirements for big data analytics services puts increasing demand on IT.
  • Cloud-related cost savings: The cloud allows businesses to choose service offerings based on a cross section of feature requirements and SLA needs. Implementing integration efforts once helps to spread the associated costs across the organization's departments and product offerings while avoiding duplication. Additionally, leveraging cloud providers that build and maintain infrastructure, with related costs amortized across multiple organizations, translates into lower infrastructure costs for your business.
  • Cloud-enabled "shadow IT": With the rise in cloud offerings, LOBs have had alternatives to internally built systems when deploying solutions. External cloud vendors are often able to stand up and deliver needed application services in minutes compared to the days, weeks, or months that traditional IT departments required. However, with shadow IT, random cloud provider choices can lead to poor or nonexistent SLAs.

 

Implementing the IT services model

The business drivers and benefits of this IT transformation are clear. The following are key components needed to implement it in most organizations:

  • Automated service delivery: Implement an internal portal for LOBs to select and enable internal services without manual intervention.
  • Automated processes: Use automation end-to-end to deliver, upgrade, and deploy services, and avoid error-prone manual processes.
  • Policy enforcement: Standardize vendor choices, service management procedures, and internal systems, and enforce these standardizations through automation where possible.
  • Security and compliance: Automation and selection enforces security policies put in place, and uniform compliance (i.e. regulatory requirements) across LOBs is ensured.
  • SLAs: A hybrid cloud platform (using only preselected and vetted internal and external providers) ensures solutions built on top will adhere to predetermined and negotiated SLAs.

 

Additionally, to enable greater success, the internal IT solutions provider should make the following considerations:

  • Compare external cloud service provider offerings for cost, performance, and other factors.
  • Evaluate and implement a standard internal cloud framework.
  • Evaluate multiple providers of similar cloud services, and negotiate accordingly.
  • Implement services in-house where expertise allows this to be done.

 

Cloud brokering works

In summary, becoming an internal service provider helps IT lower costs while increasing security, agility, and both the quality and quantity of SLAs. This is achieved through volume discounts with cloud providers when multiple LOBs deploy solutions, process automation, and accurate service usage tracking. Hybrid enablement allows external services to be combined with internal expertise to create unique, competitive offerings.

 

Learn more about establishing yourself as a service broker by reading Five steps to becoming a service broker.

 

 

Eric Bruno

 

Computer scientist skilled in full life cycle, large-scale software architecture, design, and development. His accomplishments span development expertise in the areas of client/server ,highly distributed, multi-tiered web, as well as real-time and transactional software.


Connect with Eric:

 @ericjbruno

 

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