Cloud Procurement

What's good about the cloud broker/integrator model?

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Cloud brokers can ease agencies' transition to the cloud and ensure that they reap the advantages of a dynamic marketplace, writes InfoZen's Greg Mundell. (Stock image)

Federal agencies are seeking more effective, innovative approaches in response to stakeholder needs, which involves adopting new technologies and better enabling mission success while reducing costs. The current budget environment will also require federal agencies to derive significant cost savings from their IT total cost of ownership. In other words, they need to do more with less.

Cloud services are one way agencies are improving services while reducing IT delivery costs. Selecting and managing cloud providers is a daunting task given the myriad offerings in the marketplace today. This is where the cloud broker/integrator model comes into play.

Point/Counterpoint

This article is part of an ongoing debate regarding the value of cloud brokers. For other points of view, see:

Sean Rhody: Cloud brokers make sense

Diana Gowen: The cloud broker concept is broken

Cloud broker/integrators offer the technical expertise to cost-effectively migrate to the cloud. Typically, they deliver lessons learned from previous projects to minimize the large risks in those migration projects. Furthermore, it might be in the migrating organization’s best interest to do some “house cleaning” prior to cloud migration, such as standardizing on technology, inventorying assets and transitioning to open-source tools. Cloud broker/integrators can help with those projects as part of an overall migration road map.

In addition, the model delivers a platform that allows for the portability of assets and continual competition. The evidence is clear for why an organization would want to stay away from vendor lock-in with a single cloud service provider (CSP):

• There are dozens of CSPs in the evolving cloud marketplace and a rapid pace of new solutions.

• Those factors result in continuous improvement of services, including continual competition among CSPs.

• Organizations can take advantage of new offerings in terms of price or innovation; one of the leading CSPs has lowered its prices more than 30 times since 2006.

With the help of a cloud broker/integrator, organizations can set up their assets for portability through standardization. When an organization wants to take advantage of a new innovation or price offering, the porting of assets is quick, transparent and seamless.

This brings us to the next benefit of the cloud broker/integrator framework: It delivers new contracting models to streamline acquisition and give customers the ability to move among CSPs. That means organizations can change CSPs or purchase new cloud services without going through a lengthy and costly acquisition process.

The total cost of ownership for new technology typically includes large acquisition, migration and integration costs. A cloud broker/integrator can bundle those items and reduce costs for organizations. Furthermore, it can conduct trade studies on new cloud offerings and negotiate on behalf of the government through its existing contract. For example, a cloud broker/integrator can compete pricing among multiple CSPs.

Lastly, cloud broker/integrators provide independent assessments of security, ensure adherence to service-level agreements, and enhance efficiencies for Web assets and applications. A CSP typically does not provide those services. Cloud broker/integrators help organizations select, create and customize service-level and operating-level agreements. They can also provide diagnoses of problems or outages. Furthermore, organizations need ongoing independent assessments of their CSPs that ask, for example, whether a CSP is meeting its service-level agreements, and if not, what should be done about it?

And lastly, although CSPs provide standard dashboards and software to manage services, cloud broker/integrators bring additional tools to better report and manage data, even across multiple CSPs.

Overall, this is an exciting time for organizations to transform the way services are delivered to their increasingly mobile and tech-savvy stakeholders. The smarter organizations will realize that the business model is changing, and they will capitalize on the advantages cloud broker/integrators offer.

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