As enterprise cloud use expands rapidly to include public, private, and hybrid clouds, CIOs need to evolve their IT business model and become enterprise cloud service brokerage (CSBs).

A cloud service brokerage, as defined by Gartner Group, is “an IT role and business model in which a company or other entity adds value to one or more (public or private) cloud services on behalf of one or more consumers of that service.” Gartner recently challenged CIOs to explore how they should position themselves as CSBs within the enterprise by “establishing a purchasing process that accommodates cloud adoption, and encourages business units to come to the IT organization for advice and support.”

Why not just bring in an outside organization to manage cloud vendors? Indeed, many new companies have sprung up recently to help IT departments procure their cloud services. However, as a recent CIO Magazine article points, “it remains IT’s responsibility to make sure that cloud-based services used by the enterprise comply with enterprise governance, security, and compliance policies while minimizing enterprise risks, and efficiently brokering the right cloud services is increasingly essential in multi-cloud environments.”

In reality, IT is quickly being sidelined as business groups increasingly adopt cloud services on their own.ShadowIT_graphic

At Cisco, we have discovered that there are typically ten to fifteen times more cloud services being used in enterprises beyond that being tracked by IT.

Rather than trying to control these shadow IT activities, we recommend that IT departments instead support business-led efforts by providing the services that are needed, managing them in a way that is both secure and cost-effective.

By transforming into an enterprise CSB, an IT manager can become a trusted broker that acts as an intermediary between business groups and cloud service providers. This model goes well beyond vendor procurement and negotiations. It also requires a fundamental transformation of IT’s business model.


We recommend that IT establish a lifecycle approach to managing cloud services. This includes monitoring cloud usage across all clouds, uniting the organization on a cloud strategy and technology, establishing new processes to procure and deploy public/private/hybrid cloud services, mitigating cloud business risks, and implementing new cloud operations and governance programs.   

By evolving itself into a cloud service brokerage, IT can provide the right private, hybrid or public cloud service, at the right time, and at the right cost. Rapid deployment of cloud services improves business agility, while at the same time managing risks and cost.

Why invest in building internal cloud broker capabilities instead of working with an outside provider? Ultimately, it comes down to relevancy. As cloud services become a primary way in which business groups consume technology, IT must avoid being relegated to the sidelines. It is up to the CIO to determine the role of IT within their business as the world migrates to cloud computing.

Make no mistake—the journey to becoming a CSB can be complex. Cisco Services is working with IT leaders like you to help them transform into an enterprise CSB, and manage cloud adoption from end-to-end.

To learn more about avoiding the pitfalls of shadow IT and evolving IT into a cloud service brokerage, please register to attend an upcoming webinar on Dec 11, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. PT.


Scott Clark

Vice President, Advanced Services

Cloud & Networking Services