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Brokering the Cloud Services

By Eric Boyette, Secretary & State CIO, Information Technology

Brokering the Cloud ServicesEric Boyette, Secretary & State CIO, Information Technology

The North Carolina Department of Information Technology - as a provider of services to our customers - needed a way to ensure we were providing the best options for cloud and hybrid solutions. With the multitude of options available and investment of time needed to have the best understanding of the environments, DIT decided to look to our vendor partners to broker these services. The broker over time will assist in offloading the new knowledge to our internal staff for continuation of this service.

As a starting point, DIT has procured and developed a cloud management platform (CMP) using VMware’s VRealize technology solution. This Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform allows for cloud services to be an extension of DIT’s data center. 

DIT will compete for business of the customer and or be a hybrid environment with a cloud provider.

The platform will allow customers to self-provision cloud services as well as infrastructure services within our data center. Additionally, we have embarked on a next generation data center project using Cisco’s ACI technology to support this effort. 

The first phase is focused on the provisioning of servers, databases, and storage. DIT solicited services through a bid process which was awarded to Deloitte (broker), to assist DIT with maturing our internal processes as the cloud continues to proliferate in our environment. Currently, customers contact DIT to ask for assistance in determining which infrastructure services are needed for a solution they have bought or intend to develop. The broker will use our criteria as well as customer requirements to help determine which cloud vendor will suit them best. Either the customer or the broker will move the workload to the appropriate cloud vendor. DIT will compete for business of the customer and or be a hybrid environment with a cloud provider. Through the CMP, the cost is automatically calculated as well. 

In addition, the broker will monitor the fluctuating cost of the cloud vendors and contact customers when that cost falls outside of their requested range. 

The customer or broker can move those workloads from one cloud to another via the CMP technology. For more savvy customers, they may skip the interaction with the broker and move workloads as they see fit, based on data classification, pricing, and their business need. The benefits to moving to this model include the ability for our customers to self-provision and reduce the significant build time it would normally take doing it manually. Customers manage their own costs since they will have visibility via the CMP or the broker to know when prices change.

Many of our customers want the pay-as-you-go model where they can spin up servers and only pay for when they use them. This pricing model is especially appealing for development efforts and disaster recovery testing as many vendors can provide very granular pricing (per day, per hour). Having a broker manage all these processes initially will help teams within DIT to understand the different cloud service capabilities, how to monitor them, and develop more in-depth criteria for work load management.

We are very excited about this new offering and are looking at a late fall for implementation.

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