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Does my cloud broker hold the key to service success?

Cloud services brokers serve as valuable intermediaries between an organization and its cloud provider. But what other benefits do they deliver?

How does a cloud broker benefit the enterprise?

A cloud broker -- sometimes referred to as cloud services brokerage (CSB) -- delivers multiple benefits to a business and its users. A competent CSB can improve cloud service performance, reduce costs and serve as a valuable intermediary between cloud providers and their customers. As a result, IT teams see fewer problems and perform less firefighting. If this isn't the case, it's time for the business to re-evaluate its CSB and perhaps consider another.

When businesses select the right combination of cloud services -- whether on-premises or external -- they're effective and transparent to users. However, service disruptions, inadequate connectivity and other issues can crush user productivity. To forestall problems, CSBs ensure proper infrastructure, and solve problems later by asking providers to maintain or improve service levels.

CSBs fill the gap between cloud service providers and their customers. They help busy enterprise users understand and navigate the ever-expanding cloud landscape. The role of CSBs is similar to traditional VARs or consultants. And while internal IT teams may eventually assume a CSB's responsibilities, creative and knowledgeable CSBs remain valuable.

In a CSB model, a business is essentially "renting" cloud expertise. But a business can also "buy" this expertise by developing experts in-house.

"One benefit to renting the expertise is that an enterprise in early stages of cloud services consumption can delay adding head count until they have a clearer picture of the mix of cloud services that best meets the needs of the business,” said Sid Herron, channel director at VirtualQube, a cloud provider in Woodinville, WA.

When things run smoothly, there's no significant difference between a cloud broker or on-premises support model.

"Users don't care how their applications get delivered, or from where," Herron said. "They just want to do their jobs and get to the applications and data necessary to do their jobs whenever they need to, from wherever they are, without having to worry about the technology."

Stephen J. Bigelow is the senior technology editor of the Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. He can be reached at[email protected].

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