Building a Hybrid Functional Reference Architecture – part 1 – Brokering

Many companies talk about transformation to digital and using many digital services in support of their business. Unfortunately they do not always understand the implications of their request. Consuming services from many suppliers is mandatory to transform at the speed required by the business, but it implies hybrid IT. Moving to hybrid requires rethinking of how services are delivered to users. There are architectural and operational implications. There is in my mind no better way than illustrating this by starting from a hybrid IT architecture. Over the years we built a Hybrid IT functional reference architecture that I’ll describe to you in a series of podcasts to help you think through the implications of the change. As this architecture was built in parallel with the IT4IT standard, we have integrated the standard in the architecture. I’ll talk about both in this series.

Let’s start at the begin and discuss the ways services can be consumed within the architecture. To quote NITS, the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, there are three ways external services can be consumed:

  • Service Intermediation: A cloud broker enhances a given service by improving some specific capability and providing value-added services to cloud consumers. The improvement can be managing access to cloud services, identity management, performance reporting, enhanced security, etc.
  • Service Aggregation: A cloud broker combines and integrates multiple services into one or more new services. The broker provides data integration and ensures the secure data movement between the cloud consumer and multiple cloud providers.
  • Service Arbitrage is similar to service aggregation except that the services being aggregated are not fixed. Service arbitrage means a broker has the flexibility to choose services from multiple agencies (and switch to another service without affecting the user experience). The cloud broker, for example, can use a credit-scoring service to measure and select an agency with the best score.

With this in mind we can now discuss the structure of the architecture. At the highest level, three layers are represented:


In the podcast I discuss those in details and highlight the difference between a service, a service element and a service instance. Enjoy listening.

In the next podcast I will describe how IT4IT interacts with these three layers.

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