I can use a credit card and get services up and running within a very short amount of time from a cloud provider. Why would I want to use a broker? Because I can use a credit card and get services up and running within a very short amount of time from a cloud provider. Times ten thousand.
I recently talked with a client who had no idea what their enterprise spend was on Amazon Web Services. They had no idea how many employees were already using their services. They had a third-party do an audit – not an easy task – and found well over 10,000 accounts – maybe ten times what they expected.
Worse, they looked into the actual usage, which is even harder, and estimated that about 30% of the infrastructure that they were paying for was idle. Waste. Zombies.
So the low barrier to entry from everyone and anywhere is one challenge to manage. But it’s much more than that. Every user needs to create and manage a relationship. Pay the bills. Put the right security technologies in place. Put tooling in place to monitor their services. Leverage services effectively and efficiently. Integrate with other services, perhaps on-premises. Evolve their pet projects to sometimes become core enterprise applications. And yes, turn out the lights when they’re done.
As the use of cloud services mature – and usage is skyrocketing – there will be more and more of a need to aggregate multiple services to look like one, integrate between services, customize services for a specific industry or enterprise, and govern those services efficiently and with the right level of security. We’re growing up from the wild west approach to using cloud services – so what will a grown-up user of cloud services look like?
It’s important to note that you won’t just be using one provider. On average, large enterprises are using about two dozen cloud services from nine providers already today. You will likely retain on-premises implementations, too – private cloud, hybrid cloud, things that are not cloud at all. All the above. And your use of cloud services will be changing constantly. A typical enterprise will rapidly be dealing with a dynamic portfolio of cloud and non-cloud services sourced from many places – that keep changing.
Oh, and the cloud providers themselves are doing everything they can to make integration between providers difficult, and to differentiate and make their services sticky. This isn’t “the cloud” – this is many different islands in a vast ocean that don’t want to talk.
The last thing an enterprise wants to do is curtail effective use of cloud services – used well, they might be saving money, or more importantly, helping the organization innovate and grow.
So we tell our clients there are three approaches to becoming a cloud broker that are critical.
- Don’t slow down usage – accelerate time to value. Help your users get to the right cloud services faster. This requires expertise and tools. And this doesn’t end with day one use of a cloud service – if the right guardrails/standards are put in place day one, a pilot project can mature smoothly to become a mission-critical service, rather than requiring a do-over. Acceleration should be applied at all stages of the rocket’s lifecycle.
- Don’t add to their overhead – reduce their overhead and add value. Every user of cloud services needs to deal with contracting, payment, monitoring, governance. Some of that could be centralized and handled for them – take a load off their backs.
- While doing (1) and (2), protect the enterprise. Somebody needs to vet the provider, perhaps recommend a different provider – and continue to vet them in a rapidly changing market. Somebody needs to establish a migration plan. Somebody needs to perform the appropriate (not too much and not too slow!) compliance and security checks, and ensure the right security tooling is put in place. Just make sure to look for ways to say yes, rather than saying no – and do it quickly.
These approaches are more about carrot than stick. Most organizations are creating a broker role after cloud services are already widely used. The best way to win users into a new relationship with their cloud providers is by providing some value-add. You’ll need to win their business. Start with a willing customer, focus on their needs, build a success story, expand from there. At the same time, this allows the “broker” to transform, gradually, your own skills, best practices, tooling.