Get Instant Access
to This Blueprint

Infrastructure Operations icon

Adding the Right Value: Building Cloud Brokerages That Enable

Considerations for implementing an institutional-focused cloud brokerage.

In many cases, the answer is to develop a cloud brokerage to manage the complexity. But what should your cloud broker be delivering, and how?

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • To avoid failure, you need to provide security and compliance, but basic user satisfaction means becoming a frictionless intermediary.
  • Enabling brokers provide knowledge and guidance for the best usage of cloud.
  • While GCBs fill a critical role as a control point for IT consumption, they can easily turn into a friction point for IT projects. It’s important to find the right balance between enabling compliance and providing frictionless usability.

Impact and Result

  • Avoid disintermediation.
  • Maintain compliance.
  • Leverage economies of scale.
  • Ensure architecture discipline.

Adding the Right Value: Building Cloud Brokerages That Enable Research & Tools

1. Build a Cloud Brokerage Deck – A guide to help you start designing a cloud brokerage that delivers value beyond gatekeeping.

Define the value, ecosystem, and metrics required to add value as a brokerage. Develop a brokerage value proposition that aligns with your audience and capabilities. Define and rationalize the ecosystem of partners and value-add activities for your brokerage. Define KPIs that allow you to maximize and balance both usability and compliance.

Adding the Right Value: Building Cloud Brokerages That Enable

Considerations for implementing an institutional-focused cloud brokerage.

Your Challenge

Increasingly, large institutions and governments are adopting cloud-first postures for delivering IT resources. Combined with the growth of cloud offerings that are able to meet the certifications and requirements of this segment that has been driven by federal initiatives like Cloud-First in Canada and Cloud Smart in the United States, these two factors have left institutions (and the businesses that serve them) with the challenge of delivering cloud services to their users while maintaining compliance, control, and IT sanity.

In many cases, the answer is to develop a cloud brokerage to manage the complexity. But what should your cloud broker be delivering and how?

Navigating the Problem

Not all cloud brokerages are the same. And while they can be an answer to cloud complexity, an ineffective brokerage can drain value and complicate operations even further. Cloud brokerages need to be designed:

  1. To deliver the right type of value to its users.
  2. To strike the balance between effective governance & security and flexibility & ease of use.

Info-Tech’s Approach

By defining your end goals, framing solutions based on the type of value and rigor your brokerage needs to deliver, and focusing on the right balance of security and flexibility, you can deliver a brokerage that delivers the best of all worlds.

  1. Define the brokerage value you want to deliver.
  2. Build the catalog and partner ecosystem.
  3. Understand how to maximize adoption and minimize disintermediation while maintaining architectural discipline and compliance.

Info-Tech Insight

Sometimes a brokerage delivery model makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t! Understanding the value addition you want your brokerage to provide before creating it allows you to not only avoid pitfalls and maximize benefits but also understand when a brokerage model does and doesn’t make sense in the first place.

Project Overview

Understand what value you want your brokerage to deliver

Different institutions want brokerage delivery for different reasons. It’s important to define up front why your users need to work through a brokerage and what value that brokerage needs to deliver.

What’s in the catalog? Is it there to consolidate and simplify billing and consumption? Or does it add value further up the technology stack or value chain? If so, how does that change the capabilities you need internally and from partners?

Security and compliance are usually the highest priority

Among institutions adopting cloud, a broker that can help deliver their defined security and compliance standards is an almost universal requirement. Especially in government institutions, this can mean the need to meet a high standard in both implementation and validation.

The good news is that even if you lack the complete set of skills in-house, the high certification levels available from hyperscale providers combined with a growing ecosystem of service providers working on these platforms means you can usually find the right partner(s) to make it possible.

The real goal: frictionless intermediation and enablement

Ultimately, if end users can’t get what they need from you, they will go around you to get it. This challenge, which has always existed in IT, is further amplified in a cloud service world that offers users a cornucopia of options outside the brokerage. Furthermore, cloud users expect to be able to consume IT seamlessly. Without frictionless satisfaction of user demand your brokerage will become disintermediated, which risks your highest priorities of security and compliance.

Understand the evolution: Info-Tech thought model

While initial adoption of cloud brokerages in institutions was focused on ensuring the ability of IT to extend its traditional role as gatekeeper to the realm of cloud services, the focus has now shifted upstream to enabling ease of use and smart adoption of cloud services. This is evidenced clearly in examples like the US government’s renaming of its digital strategy from “Cloud First” to “Cloud Smart” and has been mirrored in other regions and institutions.

Info-Tech Insights

To avoid failure, you need to provide security and compliance.

Basic user satisfaction means becoming a frictionless intermediary.

Exceed expectations! Enabling brokers provide knowledge and guidance for the best usage of cloud.

  • Security & Compliance
  • Frictionless Intermediation
  • Cloud-Enabling Brokerage

Define the role of a cloud broker

Where do brokers fit in the cloud model?

  • NIST Definition: An entity that manages the use, performance, and delivery of cloud services and negotiates relationships between cloud providers and cloud consumers.
  • Similar to a telecom master agent, a cloud broker acts as the middle-person and end-user point of contact, consolidating the management of underlying providers.
  • A government or institutional cloud broker (GCB) is responsible for the delivery of all cloud services consumed by the departments or agencies it supports or that are mandated to use it.

Balancing governance and agility

Info-Tech Insight

While GCBs fill a critical role as a control point for IT consumption, they can easily turn into a friction point for IT projects. It’s important to find the right balance between enabling compliance and providing frictionless usability.

Model brokerage drivers and benefits

Reduced costs: Security through standardization: Frictionless consumption: Avoid disinter-mediation; Maintain compliance; Leverage economies of scale; Ensure architecture discipline

Maintain compliance and ensure architecture discipline: Brokerages can be an effective gating point for ensuring properly governed and managed IT consumption that meets the specific regulations and compliances required for an institution. It can also be a strong catalyst and enabler for moving to even more effective cloud consumption through automation.

Avoid disintermediation: Especially in institutions, cloud brokers are a key tool in the fight against disintermediation – that is, end users circumventing your IT department’s procurement and governance by consuming an ad hoc cloud service.

Leverage economies of scale: Simply put, consolidation of your cloud consumption drives effectiveness by making the most of your buying power.

Info-Tech Insights

Understanding the importance of each benefit type to your brokerage audience will help you define the type of brokerage you need to build and what skills and partners will be required to deliver the right value.

The brokerage landscape

The past ten years have seen governments and institutions evolve from basic acceptance of cloud services to the usage of cloud as the core of most IT initiatives.

  • As part of this evolution, many organizations now have well-defined standards and guidance for the implementation, procurement, and regulation of cloud services for their use.
  • Both Canada (Strategic Plan for Information Management and Information Technology) and the United States (Cloud Smart – formerly known as Cloud First) have recently updated their guidance on adoption of cloud services. The Australian Government has also recently updated its Cloud Computing Policy.
  • AWS and Azure both now claim Full FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) certification.
  • This has not only enabled easy adoption of these core hyperscale cloud service by government but also driven the proliferation of a large ecosystem of FedRAMP-authorized cloud service providers.
  • This trend started with government at the federal level but has cascaded downstream to provincial and municipal governments globally, and the same model seems likely to be adopted by other governments and other institution types over time.

Info-Tech Insight

The ecosystem of platforms and tools has grown significantly and examples of best practices, especially in government, are readily available. Once you’ve defined your brokerage’s value stance, the building blocks you need to deliver often don’t need to be built from scratch.

Address the unique challenges of business-led IT in institutions

With the business taking more accountability and management of their own technology, brokers must learn how to evolve from being gatekeepers to enablers.

This image This lists the Cons of IT acting as a gatekeeper providing oversight, and the Pros of IT acting as an Enabler in an IT Partnership.  the Cons are: Restrict System Access; Deliver & Monitor Applications; Own Organizational Risk; Train the Business.  The Pros are: Manage Role-Based Access; Deliver & Monitor Platforms; Share Organizational Risk; Coach & Mentor the Business

Turn brokerage pitfalls into opportunities

The greatest risks in using a cloud broker come from its nature as a single point of distribution for service and support. Without resources (or automation) to enable scale, as well as responsive processes for supporting users in finding the right services and making those services available through the brokerage, you will lose alignment with your users’ needs, which inevitably leads to disintermediation, loss of IT control, and broken compliance

Info-Tech Insights

Standardization and automation are your friend when building a cloud brokerage! Sometimes this means having a flexible catalog of options and configurations, but great brokerages can deliver value by helping their users redefine and evolve their workloads to work more effectively in the cloud. This means providing guidance and facilitating the landing/transformation of users’ workloads in the cloud, the right way.

Challenges Impact
  • Single point of failure
  • Managing capacity
  • Alignment of brokerage with underlying agencies
  • Additional layer of complexity
  • Inability to deliver service
  • Disintermediation
  • Broken security/compliance
  • Loss of cost control/purchasing power

Validate your cloud brokerage strategy using Info-Tech’s approach

Value Definition

  • Define your brokerage type and value addition

Capabilities Mapping

  • Understand the partners and capabilities you need to be able to deliver

Measuring Value

  • Define KPIs for both compliant delivery and frictionless intermediation

Provide Cloud Excellence

  • Move from intermediation to enablement and help users land on the cloud the right way
Adding the Right Value: Building Cloud Brokerages That Enable preview picture

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

Talk to an Analyst

Our analyst calls are focused on helping our members use the research we produce, and our experts will guide you to successful project completion.

Book an Analyst Call on This Topic

You can start as early as tomorrow morning. Our analysts will explain the process during your first call.

Get Advice From a Subject Matter Expert

Each call will focus on explaining the material and helping you to plan your project, interpret and analyze the results of each project step, and set the direction for your next project step.

Unlock Sample Research


Nabeel Sherif

Visit our Exponential IT Research Center
Over 100 analysts waiting to take your call right now: 1-519-432-3550 x2019