The widening adoption of cloud computing in the enterprise is spurring the growth of a relatively new role in corporate IT: The service broker.
In part, the need for these professionals is being driven by the growing use of hybrid cloud solutions. Gartner calls the melding of internal and external cloud services an “imperative.” “Enterprises should design private cloud services with a hybrid future in mind and make sure future integration/interoperability is possible,” the researcher says.
As companies seek to host some applications on their own but rely on vendors for others, someone has to determine what goes where and then identify the best solution as quickly as possible.
By definition, brokers are go-betweens. They work between parties to facilitate and execute a transaction. Think about real estate brokers or stock brokers. In the world of the cloud, the service broker’s job is to understand their company’s business requirements and identify external vendors who can meet them.
This means they have to understand the intricacies of their business and the end user’s needs as well as have a firm grasp of the technology available to meet the company’s requirements. Every organization is different, notes Andrew Froehlich, president of network consulting firm West Gate Networks, in InformationWeek. There are no cookie-cutter cloud solutions. The service broker has to work between IT and vendors to develop and implement the optimal approach.
This doesn’t mean in-house cloud-related jobs are going away. Companies will still need network architects and the like. But as in so many other areas of tech, their responsibilities will evolve as more technical tasks move to the cloud. Many architects will find themselves taking on the service broker role themselves.
In some ways, the service broker’s job is like a translator’s. They need a firm grasp of business-unit requirements and the ability to make sure vendors can meet them. “A clear understanding of business drivers — and the optimal cloud technologies available to facilitate those business goals — will be needed,” Froehlich writes.
This means service brokers need a variety of skills, both technical and business-related. Among other things, they must understand systems integration, IT management and, to a degree, project management. Soft skills will be important, too, as they’ll interact regularly with business units and both internal and vendor IT staffs.
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