What is a Cloud Service Broker?

As enterprises increasingly move to the cloud (evidenced by the blistering speed of adoption of Office 365), CIOs and IT executives are seen as responsible for a new IT function – enabling and adding value to the organization’s use of cloud services. Gartner defines the Cloud Service Broker function as adding value to cloud services by providing a marketplace for enterprise-approved services, integrating cloud services with each other and with on-premise applications, and ensuring corporate data is secure in the cloud. While the CIO is seen as accountable for these functions, IT departments may perform these functions internally or use an external service to accomplish them.

“A cloud services brokerage is a third party company that adds value to cloud services on behalf of cloud service consumers.”

– Daryl Plummer, VP and Gartner Fellow, Forbes

In 2014 it was estimated 30% of enterprises would adopt a cloud service broker to better enable the cloud. There are three primary areas a cloud service broker can address in accelerating the adoption of the cloud:

  1. Aggregation – enabling the consumption of cloud by end users via a cloud application marketplace approved by the company
  2. Integration – ensuring cloud applications exchange data with each other and with on-premise applications to orchestrate business processes
  3. Customization – augmenting cloud services with changes to data schema or enhanced security and compliance

Limited Time Offer: Complimentary Gartner Report

Download Gartner’s detailed recommendations for evaluating and deploying Cloud Access Security Brokers

Download Now

The challenge for IT is that the cloud is relatively immature compared to on-premise enterprise software. By adding customized capabilities on top of cloud services, the enterprise can realize the benefits of cloud, while also meeting its other business objectives including data security and compliance. In particular, organizations are looking to augment the cloud and achieve the following:

  1. Reduce risk with more robust security and compliance capabilities
  2. Add value and visibility with analytics
  3. Centralize functionality for audit trails and policy enforcement
  4. Streamline the selection process of cloud services

One key question asked by IT departments is who is responsible for the cloud service broker role? Is it an internal responsibility or something the cloud provider is responsible for? According to a survey of IT professionals, 80% of respondents said the CIO is responsible for cloud services brokerage. The challenge in enabling SaaS applications at scale is that it requires new skills and methodologies. Even though the CIO is ultimately responsible for enabling cloud, there are many approaches to meeting these new responsibilities including outsourcing the function to a third party cloud broker.

“For some organizations, the role of the IT department may even shift to become a broker for use of cloud services.”

– Daryl Plummer, VP and Gartner Fellow, Forbes

The move to the cloud is changing the role of IT from a provider of technology to an enabler of employees to consume technology as a service. The cloud service broker is a key part of this transition. Many organizations are asking whether this new function will be performed internally or to go with a provider. Your organization should consider outsourcing this function to a third party if these conditions apply:

  1. Prefer to use operational funding versus capital investment
  2. CSB is not a core competency of the IT department
  3. External CSB can be deployed more rapidly than internal development
  4. Desire to focus on business objectives, not IT enablement
  5. Employees rely on a large number of cloud providers