The New, New Case for Brokers (Part 1 of 2)

In general, the need for brokers is self-evident in our lives and our history. For example, real estate, investments, and even matchmaking are made better with brokers doing the, well, brokering.  Over time, however, traditional broker models can be challenged and even reinvented by technology or changing social norms, e.g. real estate, investments, and matchmaking.  Being a broker is hard, dirty work. Enter the latest in this series of social experiments:  The Cloud Broker.

What if virtual machines are cheaper from Microsoft on Tuesday, VMware on Wednesday, and AWS on Thursday? What if I need a system stack that includes packaged apps like a middleware layer, or an HR management platform, or… hmmm, I don’t know… a billing platform?  And what if I have no patience or desire to evaluate all those vendors and integrate all of those solutions myself?  Or what if I want a “throat-to-choke” provider to manage the whole thing for me?

The Cloud Broker is here to help you now. But please don’t mistake The Cloud Broker for an SI (systems integrator) by another name. Rather than consulting with you to cobble together a unique collection of products to suit your needs, The Cloud Broker has built their own stack, full of best-of-breed solutions, all pre-integrated to give you the fullest version of a ready-to-use B/OSS solution that they can offer, with the promise of competitive cost and quick time to market.

Michael Daconta’s article on the topic is a fabulous definition and overview of the nascent rise of this latest form of brokerage.  I humbly direct your attention to Page 2, in the short list of bullets beneath “The key requirements for cloud broker software are as follows”, where my favorite line (surprise, surprise) reads: “Billing and pricing services so that consumers only pay for what they need and expenditures are accurately tracked across cloud providers.”

The importance is pretty obvious.  So build it out on the cloud by all means.  But for many (most? all?) ventures, a lack of an associated and quickly enabled monetization strategy is not a recipe for success.  Especially if you’re attempting to deliver something with the word “subscription” anywhere near it.  And these days, who isn’t hitching their ride to the subscription wagon?

Your friendly neighborhood Cloud Broker will help you when you need it.  And, hey, don’t get me wrong:  I’m not telling the burgeoning worldwide collection of Cloud Brokers something they don’t already know.  Believe me… they know this and they’re on it.  And if maybe we’re not quite yet at universal acceptance of pre-integrated billing and subscriber management as a table stakes offering within The Cloud Broker’s stacks, we’re certainly not far away.

So that’s all well and good.  Long live The Cloud Brokers; may they thrive and prosper, and may they adapt and weather the inevitable future changes to their businesses as their cousin brokerages of yore already have!  But truth be told, I’m going somewhere else with all of this.  Perhaps not so obviously, I submit the following: Cloud Broker = Channel Manager. Stay tuned.  I promise in my next blog post I will do my best to explain Broker = Channel Manager.

Brendan O’Brien, Aria Systems

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About the Author

Brendan O'Brien

Brendan O’Brien has been in the subscription services business for over 20 years, and is recognized as a pioneer and thought-leader. It’s fair to say that he introduced the world to cloud billing, and innovated database-driven, enterprise-grade web applications for companies ranging from Medical Manager, to Wright Express, and LaserLink. All this before the concept of “cloud” was even on the horizon. Brendan is trained as a professional stage actor and classical tenor.

The Forrester Wave: Subscription Billing Platforms, Q4 2015

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