We’ve spent considerable time talking about the importance of the channel for cloud and a provided a big picture view on the services categories that will underlie the channel’s value add around the cloud.
Today, we at Digital Bridge Partners want to lay out a picture of what we think the Cloud Integrator/Broker model is going to look like.
To be sure there are some great cloud integrators emerging like GreenPages and INX who are already there or close to rounding out their offerings to be come Cloud Integrator/Brokers, but by and large, most partners still operate their professional and managed services businesses around the in-house data center.
(Note that this blog is about IaaS Integrators as there is a separate category of SaaS Integrators like Appirio that are driving down a different business model, focused on SaaS Apps.)
So here goes:
Let’s talk through each Service area:
Business Case and Cloud Strategy. This services area is focused on management consulting to build a business case for how/where/why cloud makes sense at a IaaS, SaaS and/or PaaS level as well as creating a Cloud Vision and Roadmap that articulates how a company can transition from in-house to Utility computing over time.
Architecting Integrated (or Hybrid) Cloud Solutions. Given the many different routes to the cloud and cloud architectures, Cloud Integrators need to help end customers create the right cloud architecture addressing issues like Public/Private Cloud (and even on-prem non Cloud) Management platforms, how to automate and charge back provisioning, how to control user and admin access, how to interface the IT org with Lines of Business and many, many other variables. It’s important to note that the Architectural Solution is much more than a technical discussion, its based on an understanding of business process requirements and the needs of all Cloud constituent and how these will change over time. The Solution Architecture is the bridge between the vision/strategy and the change management process that drives implementation.
Project-Manage Cloud App and Infrastructure Transitions. As important as the vision and plan may be, the project management of the change process is of vital importance. Many companies will not hire a Cloud Integrator/Broker to act as the “General Contractor” if the Integrator cannot demonstrate deep knowledge in project managing the change process around cloud implementation. Here again, the implementation is only partially a technology change process; it impacts lines of business, the ITSM process and other business leaders all of whom need to be ‘folded into’ the process.
Implementing Integrated Cloud Infrastructure. Building out an integrated cloud infrastructure requires skills in transitioning a data center from a group of virtualized servers into a Master Service Provider capable of automating the delivery, management and optimization of infrastructure and applications. Many traditional virtualization shops are capable of making this leap and the move from virtualization to private cloud VAR, that is underway now, is all about this transition. However, integrated Cloud is more than just Private Cloud, so implementing and managing the public side of the equation will require the development of new skills in working with Service Providers, developing API-based dashboards and adding value on top of just reselling the public cloud. One of my recent blog posts talked about the Services that underlie hosted IaaS. When I speak about managing the integrated Cloud Infrastructure, I am specifically referring to workload mgmt and InterCloud mgmt talked about in this blog post.
Manage and Broker Service Provider SLAs. We believe that Cloud Brokers will evolve similarly to the role of Brokers in the Public Utility business, check out this Google search on Public Utility Brokers to see what I mean. We see Cloud Brokers having more than a few contracts with preferred Service Providers who expose their APIs to the Broker. The Broker in-turn develops dashboard reports as part of a managed services contract to the end customer. The Broker then tracks the performance of the Service Provider against their SLAs and the customer’s evolving requirements from that Service Provider. In the end, many customers won’t want a direct relationship with a Service Provider as it will prove too complicated, but instead, will look to the Cloud Broker to manage the complexity and optimization of the Service Provider offerings
Expect to see the Cloud Integrator/Broker model become increasingly popular as an add-on to existing VAR and SI business models and become a business model in its own right over the next 24 months.