Work over the last decade has resulted in standardised web services and tools that can significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of working with meteorological and ocean model data. While many operational modelling centres have enabled query and access to data via common web services, most small research groups have not. The penetration of this approach into the research community, where IT resources are limited, can be dramatically improved by (1) making it simple for providers to enable web service access to existing output files; (2) using free technologies that are easy to deploy and configure; and (3) providing standardised, service-based tools that work in existing research environments. We present a simple, local brokering approach that lets modellers continue to use their existing files and tools, while serving virtual data sets that can be used with standardised tools. The goal of this paper is to convince modellers that a standardised framework is not only useful but can be implemented with modest effort using free software components. We use NetCDF Markup language for data aggregation and standardisation, the THREDDS Data Server for data delivery, pycsw for data search, NCTOOLBOX (MATLAB®) and Iris (Python) for data access, and Open Geospatial Consortium Web Map Service for data preview. We illustrate the effectiveness of this approach with two use cases involving small research modelling groups at NATO and USGS.