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The middleman has gotten a bad rep lately. In the cloud business, however, your middleman cloud services broker might be the best thing that's ever happened to the enterprise. Here's why.

Andrew Froehlich

May 30, 2017

4 Min Read
5 Facts About Cloud Service Brokers

The term "middleman" has taken on negative connotations over the past few decades.

In our quest to find the greatest deal, we're always trying to eliminate the middleman from the equation. When the topic of cloud service brokers (CSBs) gets brought up with IT decision makers, they instinctively put up their "watch out for the middleman" guard.

While it's true that cloud brokers aren't necessary in every use-case scenario, the role a CSB can play within enterprise IT is largely misunderstood. In fact, there are plenty of situations where a cloud broker can make a significant impact on the price negotiation, customization and deployment of most public or hybrid cloud architectures within the organization. (See Killing Cloud Giants: 4 Reasons to Consider Smaller Service Providers.)

To show how this can work, we're going to explain five facts IT and CIOs should know about the role of a cloud broker in the era of cloud computing:

1. CSBs are subject-matter experts
While your IT department may have the technical expertise to manage the various cloud providers the company is using right now, it doesn't mean that they understand the business side of the arrangement.

Cloud service brokers excel in this space. They intimately understand and can assist with right-sizing, pricing, IT governance and security. Instead of having the department's technical people attempt to muddle through a learning curve, it may be a better choice to let a broker handle these duties. (See Security Concerns Not Slowing Cloud Adoption – Study.)

2. CSBs have better relationships with cloud providers
Even if you believe that the IT department has outstanding relationships with your most important cloud service providers, the broker almost certainly has a better one. Figure 1: (Source: Geralt via Pixabay) (Source: Geralt via Pixabay)

This means is that you can leverage these relationships to your advantage and receive some significant benefits, including better pricing and improved support channels of communication. Another key advantage of leveraging close ties between the service provider and broker is that they can negotiate infrastructure or cloud app customization requests on your behalf.

All these advantages and more may not be possible if you are trying it on your own. However, with a CSB that has great relationships and assists in securing hundreds or thousands of customers for the cloud provider, it opens doors that previously never existed.

3. A CSB can bundle all your cloud services into a single bill
If you're tired of managing dozens of cloud service provider bills for the various infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms your business uses today, look no further than a cloud service broker.

If the broker has relationships with all providers the company is using, they can condense multiple bills into a single unified invoice, making it far easier to manage and track. This may not be incredibly important to your IT department -- but the accounts payable team will love you for it.

4. A CSB doesn't always have to be a third party
One of the biggest misconceptions about cloud brokers is that that the broker must always be an external, third-party entity.

In fact, many large enterprises have created a permanent CSB role within the IT department itself. Some enterprise have taken it so far that they are transforming the entire IT department into their own private broker team.

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The in-house CSB then can provide similar functionality external brokers offer, while also being able to provide an extra layer of depth and understanding into the precise cloud services the business requires. Having your broker on the payroll also eliminates any concern that a middleman is charging exorbitant fees for services.

5. CSBs can take work off your plate
Cloud brokers aren't simply in it to streamline processes from a business perspective.

Instead, CSBs provide value from a technical standpoint as well. For example, some CSBs operate their own private cloud aggregation portal that taps into the service providers they use, and many allow their customers to access this portal for their own use.

Not only can these platforms be used to show the best cost and benefit comparison between various cloud providers, they also can automate the provisioning of these cloud services from a single dashboard. In some cases, these automation tasks can offload a significant amount of work that your internal infrastructure administrators currently handle.

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— Andrew Froehlich is the President and Lead Network Architect of West Gate Networks. Follow him on Twitter @afroehlich.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich

As a highly experienced network architect and trusted IT consultant with worldwide contacts, particularly in the United States and Southeast Asia, Andrew Froehlich has nearly two decades of experience and possesses multiple industry certifications in the field of enterprise networking. Froehlich has participated in the design and maintenance of networks for State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, Chicago-area schools and the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is the founder and president of Loveland, Colo.-based West Gate Networks, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and data center build outs. The author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex, he is a regular contributor to multiple enterprise IT related websites and trade journals with insights into rapidly changing developments in the IT industry.

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