Arthur Cole spoke with Vic Berger, director of technology, Affigent.
Cloud architectures come in all shapes and sizes, which is why many enterprises are turning to outside experts to help them determine the right solution. Ideally, these cloud brokers provide a vendor-neutral perspective that allows for aggregated services and infrastructure, similar to the way VARs and resellers operate in traditional enterprise markets. In fact, systems integrators like Affigent are already well on their way in the transition to cloud broker. Vic Berger, Affigent’s director of technology, highlights some of the key aspects of cloud brokerage.
Cole: The role of cloud broker is emerging as a key element in many organizations’ cloud strategies. What, exactly, can a broker do that the enterprise can’t do for itself?
Berger: Cloud brokers bring together cloud services from multiple providers to develop a complete and highly customized solution for the customer. This past year brought a significant shift in the way enterprise organizations talk about cloud. We’re no longer debating cloud’s general viability. We now understand that cloud outcomes depend heavily on how the solution is implemented in the organization and how it integrates with legacy technologies. There’s just no one-size-fits-all approach, which is why we’re seeing such high demand for the service in the market.
Another key advantage is their third-party perspective. The broker will view the customer’s challenges with fresh eyes and apply best practices from other industries to come up with a solution that’s able to truly deliver on cloud’s promise.
Cole: What special skillset should the enterprise look for in a cloud broker?
Berger: A cloud broker must be vendor-agnostic and consultative. To aggregate the best of the best from multiple vendors, you need to be trained and certified to work with these vendors. Secondly, the broker needs to be comfortable with the technology to bring new functionality by integrating these multiple services. Lastly, a cloud broker must be able to adapt the solution to the specific needs of the customer.
Cole: Is this a function that is largely being assumed by the VAR and systems integrator communities? Does it require the same long-term relationships that the enterprise built with its channel partners?
Berger: Value-added-resellers (VARs) similarly function as cloud brokers in the sense that VARs bundle solutions, streamline processes and provide subject matter expertise. It is a role many businesses and government agencies find valuable because it frees them to focus on their core mission.
I think you will see some VARs, integrators and solution providers with cloud expertise assume the cloud broker role. Affigent, for example, has experience in helping government agencies migrate to the cloud and is using this knowledge of agency needs to partner with cloud brokers to find the best opportunity for our customers.
The cloud broker role is still very much evolving. While the role has taken off in 2013, the term and its responsibilities are still being defined. Over the next year, we will see this role change as the enterprise and government face challenges. We expect cloud brokers to continue to emerge and evolve as the market faces and adapts to these challenges.