Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship

Continuing on my last post, I wanted to take some time to examine the role of Cloud Business Brokers (I was going to jump into Technical Cloud Brokers, but well, call me spontaneous), and how, like other broker models, they can provide valuable service to organizations to are looking to transition to cloud methodology, or who want to augment their existing build.

Let’s jump in shall we?

What is a Cloud Business Broker aside from another confusing marketing term? Well, like Cloud Exchange Brokers, these organizations aim to be an intermediary in the road to cloud.  They aid other organizations in helping them figure out what kinds of services they need to get to their “ideal” technical state as it relates to delivering services to their customers.

So what does this model look like?

Blatently stealing from a slide deck I presented to some healthcare folks yesterday, this is what a Cloud Business Broker looks like from a delivery perspective:

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The Cloud business broker acts as an intermediary, aggregating the services of several providers into a single point of purchase to the customer.  The broker may have their own proprietary services, as is in the case with many telecom providers who are now seeing this model as a way to better wrap additional services around their existing ones.  For example, if a telco currently offers network services and perhaps IaaS services, they can offer these to the customers and layer on additional 3rd party offerings such as managed security, data replication, storage etc.

This is a particularly attractive model as it allows organizations to offer more meaningful cloud solution packages without having to build out the additional services.  Does a telco really need to be a managed security services provider? Maybe not.

The customer benefits through the simplified procurement model, and the reduction in complexity that comes from working with a single provider (the Cloud Business Broker in this case).  But, these benefits come with some key things that you need to keep in mind.

1) Remember, Cloud Business Brokers are not necessarily the end service provider. This means you need to know who is providing the service, and ensure you know EXACTLY what the service is comprised of (hint: SLAs are really handy here).  I’ve seen way too many horror stories where customers had an incident and expected the Cloud Business Broker to provide support, only to have them turn around and say “it’s provider B’s service, deal with them.”  The last thing you want to do if something happens is to get pushed from vendor to vendor in an endless blame game.  Who wants to troubleshoot that?

2) If you are using these services to augment your existing ones, make sure that there is some SLA language around interoperability.  Cloud Business Brokers sadly often position solutions that sound great, but might not work with your existing pieces.  You’ll need to do your homework to make sure they are really the right solutions.  Brokers are usually aligned for their best interests, not yours.

and 3) Look for technologically agnostic brokers.  If you decide down the road to change or move services around, you need to ensure that your data can be safely transitioned.  Due to the early stages of these cloud models, there is a lot of risk of vendor lock in, and working with a broker doesn’t necessarily help relieve this complexity.  Make sure you investigate how each service can work with your current solution set, and how much work it would take if you decide to change services down the road. It’ll not just help you identify any potential issues ahead of time, but save you tons of headaches down the road.

Tomorrow I will be covering the last of the 3 types of broker models, the elusive Technical Cloud Broker.  While still a very well kept secret and vastly underrepresented in the market, this model takes the Business Broker Model and shows you what a real broker can do.

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