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Extra effort yields ROI with a cloud services broker

AWS offers a range of products to help IT operations succeed. A cloud services broker can manage those tools for enterprises preferring to stay hands-off.

More enterprises are shifting to complex architectures that use different cloud providers. Some enterprises access...

cloud services directly, while others turn to cloud service brokerage providers to manage them.

Companies using a cloud services broker (CSB) need to justify that extra cost. And doing so requires IT administrators to understand how to correctly select and use brokers as well as their overall value.

CSBs provide an automated selection of cloud services that should provide the best performance, reliability and cost efficiency. They also provide management services, including the ability to self- and auto-provision cloud services. Cloud service brokerage providers can also analyze service performance and govern services using preset policies. Lastly, CSBs provide enterprises with reports on cloud service use to help them understand which products provide the best price and performance.

It can be difficult to determine how brokers apply to the individual needs of an enterprise. Many enterprises focus on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the cloud and have yet to understand what a multi-cloud environment means to the bottom line. In reality, there are two types of enterprises: those that currently have a multi-cloud environment and those that will.

Within the basic operations of a CSB, "brokering" refers to the on-demand provisioning of cloud services, such as storage, compute, application, database and so on. The best way to measure CSB costs is to understand what it takes to purchase, install and implement the CSB systems. The cost of deploying and maintaining a CSB in the enterprise will be the largest expenditure.

CSBs can use enterprise pricing for unlimited use, but they are more often priced per user. Enterprises can expect to spend $5,000 to $10,000 per user, per year, no matter which models they choose -- just for the CSB. However, many CSBs offer discounts, with startups being particularly happy to reduce fees, so an enterprise can get a good deal.

Installation and localization of cloud service brokerage providers is a rather long and costly process. Enterprises should count on paying for services from the AWS broker, then training in-house staff on the CSB or hiring consultants for maintenance. The larger part of the effort will be to get all of the cloud services from all private and public clouds in use into the self-service catalog. They need to be discoverable and useable. Therefore, testing is recommended and harbors additional costs.

The value that CSBs bring is the ability to find the right cloud services for the job, at the least cost, with the best track record. This abstraction or aggregation of cloud services could save an enterprise thousands of dollars per month and millions over years. However it still requires time and money. While the value will likely justify the expenditures, it's still neither easy nor inexpensive.

Next Steps

Nine things to expect from cloud service brokers

Use a cloud service broker to reach multi-cloud nirvana

Cloud blurs the line between cloud brokers and CIOs

What to consider before selecting a cloud service broker

This was last published in August 2015

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