New Meets Old: Brokerage vs. ITIL Service Catalog

By: Hector Paz-Soldan - Leave a comment


It wasn’t long ago that IT service management practitioners embraced the IT service catalog best practices introduced by the Information Technology Infrastructure Library V3. Since then, and up to a not-too-distant past, a service catalog was designed to house information about products and services. Supporting processes such as service request management were developed to enable self-service capabilities for business users, allowing them to browse and select services that would be fulfilled by some level of automation and put in place by the IT department.

A New Kind of Paradigm

The push to the cloud and the emergence of a new, interconnected service ecosystem requires a new approach to how you manage services. Service brokering is a process that governs a wide range of service portfolio offerings to support the demand of a variety of users in a true self-service manner through automation technology.

Gartner defines cloud service brokerage (CSB) as “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 via three primary roles, including aggregation, integration and customization brokerage. A CSB enabler provides technology to implement CSB, and a CSB provider offers combined technology, people and methodologies to implement and manage CSB-related projects.”

Although the demise of the traditional service catalog is far from certain due to the prevalence of IT service management disciplines within the customer base, new and exciting developments in this space over the past few years have enabled organizations to shift from simply supporting a somewhat static service catalog to partaking in one where automation, orchestration and integration are creating an automated self-service approach.

According to Forrester, the true value of a service catalog is no longer in the standardized and consolidated list of available services; it’s in the connection and automation behind the interface that brings a service ecosystem to life.

So, What’s Changed?

What has changed is the unabated need for alignment of the supply and demand of assets, which is vital to consumers and businesses. This alignment, helped by automation, fosters the agile enterprise that feeds on the self-service capabilities of a dynamic ecosystem that is hybrid in nature.

Now, you may ask yourself, “What are the characteristics of this new practice?” The answers are all around you, based on your own experience browsing and buying services and products:

  • You want a consumer-like shopping experience and the ease of use that comes with it.
  • You want dynamic pricing that is up to date and varies depending on the availability of the services you want to consume.
  • You want multiple catalogs of service offerings.
  • You indulge on the inclusion of other services that enhance the experience.

Broker ProcessesThis certainly sounds like brokerage services, and Forrester agrees on the vision and road map of the service ecosystem: “Service catalogs must evolve from a static, reactive solution to a modern service catalog, which is a dynamic, interconnected network of solutions that can accommodate demand from all parts of the business and technology management,” the research firm says.

Service and content federation are at the heart of brokerage services. The layering of services and assets across multiple clouds in a hybrid cloud ecosystem are channeled through the service environment, in which all the benefits of cloud brokerage become evident. These benefits include control and governance, cost controls, shadow IT reduction, flexibility of choice for users within the organization’s compliance framework and the enforcement of organizational policy compliance for service selection based on cost, location workload or performance requirements.

Gartner’s forecast for cloud service brokerage shows that the market for brokerage services will almost double over four years to reach $160 billion by 2018. With this in mind, clients should consider embracing the brokerage service system, which can provide a distinct competitive advantage.

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About The Author

Hector Paz-Soldan

Principal, ESM Toronto, IBM GTS, Solutions, Del & Transf

Mr. Paz-Soldan is an ITIL, Open Group and IBM certified technical solution architect and consultant with the Global Technology Services arm of IBM Canada. His responsibilities include the development of complex, cross industry integrated IT Systems Management, Service Management and Cloud Computing solutions for IBM clients in North America and Caribbean North. In a previous... Read More