Cloud brokers: Stretching the benefits beyond IT
- By Jenn Allen
- Feb 13, 2014
As government agencies work to become more agile, efficient and cost-effective, cloud adoption has become an increasingly important part of the federal IT agenda — and rightfully so. Cloud computing has the power to transform the way the government does business and the way it delivers services to the American people despite resource constraints.
In fact, research by IDC Government Insights shows that by 2018, the government will decrease traditional IT spending by 15 percent and redirect spending to the cloud.
Despite the need to rapidly provision cloud service technologies, the public sector’s adoption of cloud computing has been slowed by questions about acquisition policy, financial management, service-level agreements (SLAs) and IT sprawl. Cloud brokers, which act as intermediaries between the buyers of a cloud computing service and the sellers of that service, are emerging as the key to delivering secure, efficient, cost-effective cloud and IT services to the U.S. public sector.
Cloud brokers can help the government reduce costs, manage IT sprawl and use resources in a more efficient manner — all while providing the best value to taxpayers.
Cloud brokers can help manage the acquisition process by giving government agencies access to multiple cloud vendors through one contract vehicle or through multiple drawdown accounts governed by business rules and policies that ensure compliance with the Antideficiency Act. A robust, broker-provided financial reporting and budgeting policy can remove acquisition barriers and allow for the timely provisioning of cloud or IT services.
Cloud brokers also enable agencies to search a catalog of available services based on specific, client-defined requirements to see what is available and then rate or score potentially applicable services based on criteria such as cost, security, geo-location and SLAs. The ability to dynamically shift workloads based on client-established criteria also helps to decrease costs — an important consideration for the government — and enable customers to use the services they need when they need them.
Managing IT sprawl
As acquisition barriers continue to inhibit the timely provisioning of cloud and IT services, government agencies are experiencing an increase in IT sprawl. Cloud brokers can help agencies decrease IT spending and sprawl by providing a single, comprehensive view of agencies’ cloud-based assets, costs and SLAs.
Cloud brokers also enable flexible capacity by helping organizations securely manage the level of service they receive, as well as the cost. By moving toward a cloud model in which the broker manages the cloud process, the government also has the opportunity to free up the workforce to take on other projects.
Using resources more efficiently
Cloud brokers enable agencies to cost-effectively create a hybrid ecosystem through an IT environment that takes advantage of traditional, private, community and public cloud services. A combination of dynamic workload management, agency-defined policy engines, and rules and service management will enable agencies to control costs while meeting mission needs. In essence, by using a cloud broker, agencies will be able to better optimize their IT services.
As government agencies continue to consider the cloud acquisition and contracting process, the advantages of cloud brokers will become increasingly important in the strategic decision-making process. The more contracting officers understand the benefits and considerations for cloud and IT, the better the contracts will be written and managed — and the better the value will be for the government.
Jenn Allen is the cloud service broker practice leader for HP Enterprise Services’ U.S. Public Sector.