Cloud Service Brokerage – horrible term, right strategy

08 August 2014

In 2012, when I was working for an IT Service Provider, we had the pleasure of being a Gartner client and engaged with them on a number of occasions to review our Brand and Product Strategy. It genuinely changed our views on the world, and even if I am no longer a Gartner client I still feel this was money well spent at the time. The headlines were that the “future is Cloud Service Brokerages” and this is a path that few have elected to tread. Now we saw the value and understood the strategy, but were genuinely put off by the term “Cloud Service Brokerage”.

For those who haven’t seen the term before, the summary is that a Cloud Service Brokerage takes Cloud Services and adds value to them to make them more palatable by Clients. Be that adding a layer of management, security, integration, automation, provisioning or just billing, this makes the Client more likely to consume the Cloud platform and therefore defines the CSB role in the supply chain.

And I love this concept. The fact that Client adoption of cloud, at the time and still to this day, is thwarted by a complexity that can be managed by Service Providers was the missing part of the MSP journey that I didn’t have. No longer were the major Cloud Vendors a threat, they were a commoditised part of a Product that an MSP bolted together, blending them with true value IP that has been developed for a number of years to retain the reason why Service Providers’ need to exist.

So what other Brokerages have this level of value add to warrant their title. Insurance Brokerages simply found you the cheapest commodity product – immediately replaced by clever comparison websites. Brokerages find things on behalf of their client, and don’t really add much more value than this.

Cloud Service Integrator in my opinion is a better descriptor. A company that successfully integrates a cloud service (from a broad set of options!), or multiple cloud services, into a Clients business processes warrants a better term than Brokerage. I suppose there could be confusion about the acronym and an American Police drama, but I’m sure we can all see the differences. Less blood, less slow-mo, more interesting.

I’m keen to understand if people see CSB or CSI as their strategy and how they are implementing it. Gartner predicted this a few years ago now, but I can’t see mass adoption of these models. I’d like to offer my services if you are interested, as it’s a very interesting concept and anyone pitching to compete with the big cloud infrastructure providers have a big scrap on their hands……..

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