The Rise of I.T. as a Service Broker

Just a quick blog post today in the run up to Christmas week and I thought I’d briefly summarize some of the things I have been dealing with recently and also touch on the role of the I.T. department as we move boldly into a cloudy world.

We have seen I.T. move through the virtualization phase to deliver greater efficiency and some have moved on to the Cloud phase to deliver more automation, elasticity and metering. Cloud can be private, public, community or hybrid, so Cloud does not necessarily imply an external service provider.

Iterative Right-Sizing

One of the things that has become clear is the need for right-sizing as part of any move to an external provider. External provision has a low base cost and a high metered cost, so you get best value by making sure your allowances for CPU, RAM and disk are a reasonably tight fit with your actual requirements, and relying on service elasticity to expand as needed. The traditional approach of building a lot of advance headroom into everything will cost you dearly. You cannot expect an external provider to deliver “your mess for less” and in fact what you will get if you don’t right size is “your mess for more”.


And it’s not necessarily true that all of your services are best met by the one or two tiers that a single Cloud provider offers. This is where the Hybrid Cloud comes in, and more than that, this is where a Cloud Management Platform (CMP) function comes in.

“Any substantive cloud strategy will ultimately require using multiple cloud services from different providers, and a combination of both internal and external cloud.” Gartner, September 2013, (Hybrid Cloud Is Driving the Shift From Control to Coordination).

A CMP such as VMware’s vRealize Automation, RightScale, or Scalr can actually take you one step further than a simple Hybrid Cloud. A CMP can allow you to right-locate your services in a policy-driven and centrally managed way. This might mean keeping some services in-house, some in an enterprise I.T. focused Cloud with a high level of performance and wrap-around services, and some in a race-to-the-bottom Public Cloud focused primarily on price.


Some organisations are indeed consuming multiple services from multiple providers, but very few are managing this in a co-ordinated policy-driven manner. The kinds of problems than can arise are:

  • Offshore Public Cloud instances may be started up for temporary use and then forgotten rather than turned off, incurring unnecessary cost.
  • Important SQL database services might be running on a low cost IaaS with database administration duties neglected, creating unnecessary risk.
  • Low value test systems might be running on a high-service, high-performance enterprise cloud service, incurring unnecessary cost.

I.T. as a Service Broker

This layer of policy and management has a natural home with the I.T. department, but as an enabler for enterprise-wide in-policy consumption rather than as an obstacle.


With the Service Brokering Capability, I.T. becomes the central point of control, provision, self-service and integration for all IT services regardless of whether they are sourced internally or externally. This allows an organisation to mitigate the risks and take the opportunities associated with Cloud.


I will be enjoying the Christmas break and extending that well into January as is traditional in this part of the world where Christmas coincides with the start of Summer.

Happy holidays to all.

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