Blog post

Cloud Brokerage is Gaining Ground

By Daryl Plummer | August 31, 2011 | 2 Comments

VirtualizationSOA GovernanceSOAService OrientationEmerging TrendsCloud

All of a sudden, everyone is interested in cloud services brokerage. Well, by everyone, I mean end customers looking for an easier way to integrate cloud computing into their plans and vendors seeking a new set of markets to mine. But no matter the interested party, one thing is clear. The options for doing cloud brokerage are growing steadily.

When we introduced cloud services brokerage in 2009, we described a concept about intermediation between services. The value was in having a third party take on a lot of the work of aggregating, integrating, customizing, or governing (nee managing) cloud services on behalf of the end consumer. In a subsequent update last year, we did a number of reports, including a piece called “Cloud Services Brokerage: Taking Intermediation to the next Level” that described the concept in even more detail. But through all of that, the activity around cloud brokerage remained mostly at the application and platform level of cloud services. Companies like Appirio and Jamcracker were getting a lot of attention for integrating or aggregating cloud services into new application solutions. GXS, Hubspan, and Liaison were among the B2B networks starting to see interest grow – a case study on Mohawk Fine Papers that we recently published illustrates this. And this week, Dell has announced its plans to broker Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and other cloud SaaS solutions by aggregating and integrating using the Boomi brokerage enabling technology which they acquired. This is part of the steady growth at the applications level. But now, we are beginning to see the rise of brokerage at the infrastructure level as well.

Recently, there has been a flurry of activity aimed at making it easier to migrate from one IaaS offering to another, not just to integrate or aggregate SaaS services. The scenario is that an IT organization wants to have a more seamless integration between different cloud IaaS or between their on premises systems and cloud IaaS. The path of migration has been a long one. Very few offerings for federating or brokering between IaaS transparently have been available. Some of the WAN optimization providers like SilverPeak and Riverbed have offered optimization and management to bring together hybrid solutions but not really for seamless migration back and forth. Companies like OKTA are offering more and more management across multiple cloud services as an aggregation brokerage.  But one golden egg in today’s market is shaping up to be the ability to deliver strong integration across multiple cloud IaaS offerings through a CSB.

Since standards for cloud services are still a long way off (assuming they ever really emerge), it becomes interesting to look to cloud providers who can bridge the gap between cloud services. So, here is where companies like BESOL (a small company going to production by the end of the year), OS33, and even Zimory (a cloud management provider) are expecting to make a move, among others. The point of these offerings is to say that you need to manage across multiple cloud solutions and eventually, to migrate between them seamlessly. This allows you, for instance to use one cloud IaaS offering as a backup to another. Or, it can allow you to rapidly deploy the same workloads from one IaaS to another to get better pricing or performance as needed.  Or, it simply allows you to manage billing, signon, use policies, and even use limits across different infrastructure services.

So, cloud services brokerage is real and getting easier to approach. IT organizations looking to gain a degree of control while still leveraging the flexibility and raw “trading” potential of the public cloud are gaining more options every day because of cloud services brokerage. And now, as we work on our “Who’s who in cloud Services Brokerage” we expect to see the options, and their growth potential, become undeniably concrete.

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  • Thanks for this insightful post. One very interesting area is aggregated cloud billing.

    As more and more cloud customers look to multiple cloud deployments, an increasing pain point will be maintaining separate accounts with various providers. This problem is compounded when custom credit terms need to be negotiated by vendor. We see cloud billing brokerage as an overlooked and sorely needed for the IaaS segment in which we operate.

    An excellent company we’ve found providing this is Strategic Blue. As far as we can tell their services are pretty unique and its an area of cloud brokerage largely overlooked to date.

    Kind regards,


    Patrick Baillie

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