Cloud Service Brokerage – The Missing Link for Government Cloud Adoption

By Ilyas Iyoob, PhD, Gravitant

Dr. Iyoob is presenting at our upcoming workshop: Building the Canadian G-Cloud.

This week’s top story in FEDConnects says that “General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) and NJVC are leading the way when it comes to helping agencies meet the Cloud First mandates” in the US.  Wait a minute…  didn’t the CATAAlliance just launch the G-Cloud First for Canada campaign a few days ago as well?

What if we leverage the success of GDIT and NJVC for successful G-Cloud First adoption in Canada?

Why Cloud Services Brokerage?

CalloutGDIT and NJVC are large Service Integrators for the US government.  Their experience with IT for the military as well as the intelligence community led them to believe that the agencies would have a tough time with Cloud First…  unless…  there’s a way for them to quickly and securely test cloud solutions in a controlled environment.

However, the agencies face a number of issues.  Here’s a short list of them:

  • There are so many certified providers out there.  How do we know which of them will truly satisfy our IT needs?
  • There is no standardization of terminology.  How do we know what to order from the provider?
  • Each provider has a different pricing model.  How do we compare offerings and providers side-by-side?
  • Each provider has a different process for provisioning.  How do we quickly provision resources?
  • The on-demand pricing model is very unpredictable.  How do we know what the actual bill would be?
  • There are many people in the organization with access the resources.  How do we control this access?

As a result, Gartner identified this as the critical piece in making the cloud consumable and coined the term Cloud Service Brokerage (CSB).  It is the job of the CSB to answer these questions, and well established CSBs even have self service portals for their customers.

How will it work?

Consumers access the CSB portal and begin designing their architecture using virtual resources on a canvas.  Then, they compare the cost of this architecture across providers and select one or more providers.  A sample bill of materials is shown to the consumer, and once the consumer approves it, a push of a button is all it takes to automatically provision all the virtual resources across all the providers simultaneously.

Once the resources are provisioned, consumers have the ability to customize access to each resource.  Based on monitored utilization data, consumers are also given recommendations to reduce cost and continually operate in an optimal manner.

Has it been done before?

Gravitant’s CloudMatrix technology currently powers the Texas Cloud Services Portal for the Texas government.  Seeing this success, NJVC established a branded cloud portal using CloudMatrix as the underlying technology and GDIT followed soon after.  And within a year, both NJVC and GDIT have been branded as leaders in helping agencies meet the Cloud First mandate.

How does this apply to Canada?

Seeing as Canada is in the initial stages of G-Cloud First, it only makes sense to adopt cloud brokerage from the very beginning and propel Canada into the forefront of cloud adoption.

Let us assume that we have the following constraints;

  • all data and infrastructure should be housed within Canadian borders,
  • only Canadian cloud providers should be available to consumers, and
  • access to the brokerage portal should be controlled.

CSB technology such as CloudMatrix should integrate with Canadian cloud providers, aggregate managed services from 3rd party Canadian providers, and customize to Canadian cloud requirements.

In other words, Cloud Services Brokerage is the key to operationalizing G-Cloud First in Canada.

Here’s an example of a CSB portal for the government of Ontario.

GCModel

For a more concrete discussion on CSB for Canada with lessons learned from the state of Texas, please join us on June 20th at the Toronto Business Development Center.  Register here

Lifting The Roadblocks To Canada’s Business Innovation

Today, technology is bringing us closer together than ever before. Its impact has given small businesses and individuals the ability to make use of resources that previously have been available only to larger enterprises. In a nation, the overall innovative capacity of businesses within its territory determine how successful the economy of that nation will be.

Some would argue that Canada is a nation that has been more lightly affected by the global financial crisis than others. Many of this nation’s citizens pride themselves with the prudence and responsibility that has kept its head above the water. But what can we say about Canada’s business innovation? The country is not very on-par with other similar nations.

One report from the Centre for Business Innovation at the Conference Board of Canada says that there is no way of knowing where to lay the blame, whether it be a lack of qualified persons, excessive regulation, tax burdens, and high barriers to entry. In fact, let’s look at a quote from the report: “Some major attempts at solutions have already been tried. For example, great progress has been made in reducing the business tax burden in recent years. However, we have not seen hoped for gains in business innovation performance.”

But it’s not enough to lower taxes and expect for businesses to set up centers for research overnight. In fact, if you really want to put the blame somewhere, why not blame everything? The barriers to entry for entrepreneurs to start something in Canada are excessive, public sector wages are much higher than private sector wages, regulations are not very friendly for smaller enterprises, and taxes are excessive.

From reading the Centre for Business Innovation’s report, you’d think that taxes are lower today for businesses in general. This is only partially true. In 2006, the corporate capital tax was eliminated completely, only to be re-introduced in full force in 2012. That gave businesses roughly six years to accomplish something. That’s, by no means, a “major attempt.”

Aside from that, we still have a problem. If you come from another country, you’re not always likely to have your university studies recognized in Canada. You also might encounter a certain number of roadblocks while trying to start your own business. This almost hostile environment for outside influence might be the single biggest problem that businesses face in Canada’s current economic climate.

If you fear that foreign business might take away market share from domestic businesses, that would only happen in instances where a domestic business cannot offer a better product. In that case, the process of elimination must take place and the best man/woman wins. Encouraging and celebrating competition, while creating a healthy environment upon which it may flourish, will create the interactive flow necessary for a strong Canada full of ideas. The boom of changes that come from such a move will spur a great amount of innovation as Canadian businesses fight tooth and nail to try to compete to the hardened veterans overseas.

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                                                                                                        Canada and Innovation?

But what do we do about the telecom industry? Well, why not do the same? We can reduce their consolidation of the Canadian market by making it easier for small local providers to appear and expand. Telecom is a very consolidated market in this country because of the great piles of regulations that make it difficult for small businesses to comply. One may argue that we have a sufficient amount of smaller telecom companies, but that argument doesn’t justify the roadblocks they are experiencing every day that prevent them from scaling up. These roadblocks are composed chiefly of regulations from the CRTC and other regulatory bodies.  Also consider the lack of savings incentive caused by the tax burden. This combination is a large impediment to the potency of the telecommunications industry of Canada. Potency comes from the lifting of boundaries that keep them stuck below a certain ceiling.

If there’s anything you should take out of this, it’s that Henry David Thoreau’s words ring truer today than ever before: That government is best which governs least. The less intervention the market experiences, the more opportunities it will have to expand. Perhaps it wouldn’t be in everyone’s interest to have a completely laissez-faire policy, but it would do well to get rid of anything that puts boulders in the path to innovation, whether it be from a small or large enterprise.