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The Art Of Cloud Brokering

A successful cloud-computing strategy often involves customizing services from one or more vendors, according to Gartner. One way to do this is through a cloud services brokerage.

Forty-two percent of customer respondents indicated a cloud broker is critical or important to their cloud services plans today. Another 13 percent believe a cloud broker is critical when the customer’s IT delivery model includes three to five or more cloud services. A customer cited cloud brokerage services as moderately important today but increasing in importance as they increased their usage of private cloud and introduced more public cloud services into their systems mix.

From a partner’s perspective, respondents indicated a greater need for cloud brokers in a small and medium business, where little or no IT staff was present to integrate and manage the changing IT environment. Further up-market and into the enterprise customer, cloud brokers were less critical today, but again important as more cloud services were engaged, even when an enterprise customer had sufficient staff on board to manage systems. The “single throat to choke” was cited by partners as a driving factor in the importance of a cloud services broker in the midmarket and higher.

Partners clearly indicated the need to build cloud-service brokerage capabilities as a business priority to pursue during 2012. In the February CRN column, I wrote about partners transforming their businesses to incorporate managed and cloud services. Partners labeled “Progressives” were those who had undertaken the effort to incorporate recurring revenue services into their businesses, but where recurring revenue did not yet account for the majority of company revenues.

In the 2012 study, IPED took a closer look at one partner in particular, Champion Solutions Group, located in Florida. Since 1979, Champion has transformed its business from telemarketer to reseller, from reseller to product and services sales, from product and services sales to solution sales and finally from solution selling to cloud solutions and services broker. Champion’s cloud-brokerage capabilities today incorporate its specific add-on services as well. For example, patch management is integrated with services of the various public cloud providers Champion resells and consolidates for its customers.

A full array of services from infrastructure server, storage and virtualization capabilities to e-mail, cloud application development platforms and cloud service applications like CRM are on the menu. Champion’s brokerage offerings consolidate all capabilities and services onto one monthly bill for invoicing, with operational support call management, design and operation of the customer IT environment to achieve the committed service level. These capabilities have been built while maintaining the solution resale capability, allowing Champion to capture customer IT budget spend without regard to whether it is required in the customers’ data center, provided as a managed service by Champion or secured from a public cloud service provider.

As we address the opportunities for you to grow and transform your business, consider your cloud-service brokerage plans and capabilities. Whether you are an infrastructure or application specialist, the trend is toward a single third-party provider to seamlessy incorporate various IT computing capabilities.

BACKTALK: Contact SVP, IPED MarketBridge Alliance Rauline Ochs via e-mail at rauline.ochs@ubm.com.

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