Back in March, I was talking with Mike Sarantopoulos, an SVP at NTT DATA, about cloud services brokerage (CSB). Having developed a portfolio of CSB offerings for NTT DATA clients, Mike had a lot to say. My conversation with him resulted in the following blog post…
The IT industry is in the midst of massive changes in the way we design, implement, manage, and interact with IT systems. For example, Big Data, social enterprise, and mobility all use the cloud as the underlying service delivery model enabling the technology to reach end users. But capturing the cloud is complex, leaving IT leaders to figure out how to implement it in their business for competitive advantage.
Enter cloud services brokerage
Think of the cloud services brokerage (CSB) provider as an intermediary between a customer and cloud service providers. CSBs help organizations efficiently evaluate, procure, integrate, and manage diverse cloud services. CSBs can serve as a strategic advisor and an aggregator of cloud services. They also provide some or all functions including provisioning and automation; integration, development, and/or customization; management and support; billing, security, and administration; and governance and change management.
The way we see it, CSBs generally have five roles:
- Aggregator – Provides cloud advice and aggregates cloud services for an enterprise. An Aggregation Brokerage Agent may offer pre-negotiated services to customers via a service catalog provided as a procurement portal. An Aggregation Brokerage value-added reseller (VAR) may act as a reseller working directly with cloud services providers to provide services to buyers at pre-negotiated wholesale prices. An Aggregation Brokerage Advisor will offer consulting services to help customers buy the right cloud solutions and services. Lastly, an Aggregation Brokerage Facilitator works with customers to develop both formal and informal solicitations for cloud services (RFPs, RFIs, etc.), providing bid management and contracting services.
- Integrator – A systems integrator that provides application-level integration between various cloud solutions and in-house and/or on-premise systems.
- IT Service Manager – Offers the software and human capital involved in operating, supporting, and monitoring cloud solutions.
- Development and Customization Provider – Provides the development of new solutions on top of the cloud services, resulting in a proprietary, fully managed solution maintained and managed by the broker. Services can include customization of user interface and workflows of existing applications, creation of features and functionality with custom code and APIs, and new development on top of Platform-as–a-Service offerings.
- Arbiter – Responsible for moving customer workloads from one cloud to another based on cost, risk, service levels, and other factors. This is a very complex function to execute due to potential incompatibility of cloud offerings available to the CSB.
NTT DATA’s View
When we talk with IT leaders, one thing becomes clear: They want to adopt cloud not just because of cost benefits but to gain flexibility and agility, and they want to evaluate their application and infrastructure portfolio to assess their maturity and readiness to move to the cloud. The result may be that they use a combination of cloud assets to reach their business goals and they want visibility and control across these assets.
NTT DATA offers an Aggregation Brokerage service called NTT DATA Cloud Direct, part of our Cloud Advisory Services portfolio, which provides a comprehensive view into all aspects of developing a cloud strategy. By approaching cloud strategy development holistically, clients ensure alignment with business goals and objectives across all aspects of the strategy, including: technology, organizational alignment, governance models, and process.
The content is tailored to the client’s needs – from a preliminary assessment that forms the basis of a high-level business case to a comprehensive cloud strategy incorporating all aspects of the organization.
Clients receive an asset discovery assessment and risk analysis (via technical surveys, functional maps, organization information, and interviews); cloud suitability analysis with deep-dive examination of cloud readiness and motivation by workload; target model analysis with planning and readiness activities for organization, process, technology, and governance; and a multi-year strategy plan and roadmap for cloud adoption, including project definition, sequencing, and financial modeling.
Through Cloud Direct, we employ a powerful tool called m2cloud to collect data and perform Cloud Suitability Analysis and Cloud Target Model Analysis with state-of-the art visualization technology. An example of the Cloud Suitability Analysis is below.
m2cloud has many views. In this Cloud Suitability view, each circle represents either an application or infrastructure component mapped along the X-axis (Cloud Readiness) and the Y-axis (Cloud Motivation). Colors indicate type (function, role, etc.) and size indicates cost. The 4 quadrants indicate whether or not the application is suitable for the cloud.
m2cloud serves as the NTT DATA cornerstone technology in providing Aggregation Brokerage services to our clients because of its unique ability to gather information, analyze data, and provide recommendations. Our CSB program has given IT executive leaders and enterprise architects an unprecedented view into their IT landscape, serving them with knowledge to make smart choices in our rapidly changing world.
While all 5 roles of the CSBs are effective in helping organizations navigate various areas of the complex cloud landscape, NTT DATA’s Cloud Direct service can help enterprises to ensure continuous alignment with business goals and ongoing improvement as they adopt cloud across their business.
- Ryan Reed, Cloud Evangelist