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Cloud Services Brokerage: Its Time to Move Beyond Integration as a Service

by Benoit Lheureux  |  June 12, 2010  |  1 Comment

This morning I depart for London to present at our Gartner SOA & Application Development and Integration Summit next week. Its the first time I’m leaving my wife and our now 10-week old Tiger Twins, Oliver and Charlotte, behind …


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… for a business trip. I’ve just come out of extended paternity leave and its tough to leave and I’m going to miss my family for a week on the road, but as my understanding wife observed, “life goes on”. That attitude is not only healthy for us as we transition into a new chapter of family life and work / life balance, its also a fitting metaphor for how my own B2B research agenda is evolving.

In London for the first time I will not only continue to cast a light on my favorite topic, integration as a service (IaaS) — a phrase I coined in research in April, 2004 — I’ll also be casting light on Cloud services brokerage (CSB). In fact this London trip is a turning point because rather than just referencing CSB in my B2B integration scenario pitch — “It’s Time To Desegregate Cloud Services and E-Commerce Integration” — I’m building the case for why IaaS — as good and as important as it is — is not by itself the right metaphor for how Cloud services will be intermediated.

Wish I’d done so myself, but in fact Daryl Plummer was the first to publish research on “Cloud services brokerage” — for Gartner clients you can find and access that research here. The initial research laid out basic concepts and some of the more recent follow-on research — to which I and others contributed — filled out a few bits. But frankly we hadn’t yet pulled together a formal research plan. That, is about to change.

In the next few months you will see a more comprehensive set of research from Daryl, myself and others on the topic of CSB. Our working draft elevator pitch on CSB is as follows:

Cloud service consumers will need help to ensure they get good value from the services they consume. Given the rapid proliferation of Cloud services there will at times be a need for service providers to intermediate between service consumers and the originating service providers. These Value-added brokerages will integrate, customize, enhance, secure, aggregate, and add trust and value to Cloud services on behalf of those consumers. Examples of this are – which aggregates and adds value to a wide range of business information services – and – which aggregates and adds value to various Cloud storage capabilities. Types of value include integration, aggregation, governance, enrichment, and any function that can be provided by a third party to ensure good service performance.

We plan to publish a research plan (in Gartner parlance that means publishing a “Key Issues” research note to lay out the research topic on CSB), publish an updated, more comprehensive definition of CSB, address how the CSB vendor landscape will emerge (and evolve from other markets, such as integration as a service, governance, etc.), and we’ll link this to other directly related IT scenarios including, of course, the emerging Cloud computing scenario, but also other directly related IT scenarios such as IT sourcing strategy.

Simply stated, it’s time to move beyond integration as a service. Don’t get me wrong … IaaS is and will remain an enduring fixture in the Cloud computing scenario for many years to comer. And my colleagues and I who cover B2B integration will continue to publish a lot on that topic, including the upcoming update to our Magic Quadrant for Integration Service Providers in 1Q11. And we will also continue to publish on B2B integration software, B2B integration outsourcing (managed services for B2B), business process networks (to be offered by CSBs – more on that later), and so on. Integration will be tightly weaved into the emerging CSB scenario. But its not like CSB will just be an evolutionary path for IaaS. Its a different business model. It social. It involves functionality like governance not generally associated with integration. And the scope of CSB impact on IT will far exceed integration.

After eight years Esther and I have moved on from being just a couple — with the Tiger Twins we’re now a family. And professionally I’m moving beyond just integration. Its all good, folks 🙂

I look forward to meeting with attendees, clients and vendors to discuss Cloud, CSB, integration and everything else that’s interesting and fun about IT at our event in London!


– bjl

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Category: b2b  business-process-networks  cloud-services-brokerage  cloud-services-integration  community-management  csb  governance  iaas  ibm  tiger-twins  

Benoit J. Lheureux
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
31 years IT industry

Benoit Lheureux is a research VP in Gartner Research and agenda manager for the Application Infrastructure group. He focuses on three areas: application integration, middleware and B2B e-commerce, with the emphasis on the latter. Read Full Bio

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