Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Esmeralda Swartz, Jerry Melnick, Michelle Drolet

Blog Feed Post

Cloud Brokerage and the Future of the IT Utility

Abstract:  Cloud Brokerage is an emerging trend in the broader cloud computing industry.  Opinions differ widely about what it means to be a broker and the significance brokers will have on the future of the industry as a whole.    The reality is that the brokerage model signals the real potential to commoditize the compute utility, which will climax with the genesis of compute as a tradable commodity like soybeans, oil or minerals.  In this four part series we will take a deep dive into the concept of cloud brokerage and connect the dots between the key trends and market demands that will shape a force few in the industry see coming and fewer still are prepared to accept.

Part I:  The Analysts Weigh In

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has established a working paper on the subject of cloud brokerage, signaling the importance of a movement that is taking shape inside the cloud computing industry as a whole.

The NIST working document describes the Cloud Brokerage success criteria as follows:

cloud-user wishes to carry out an action on cloud-provider-1 using a federated interface, with no direct knowledge of cloud-provider-1 commands or interfaces. A cloud-management-broker offers the cloud-user a federated interface to multiple cloud-providers through a human user interface, an application programming interface or both.  The cloud-user selects desired cloud-provider-1 resources, action and action parameters using the cloud-management-broker interface.  The cloud-management-broker collects and marshals the selected action and parameters from the cloud-user‘s selection and issues the desired command to cloud-provider-1 using cloud-provider-1 native interface.

The idea of cloud brokerage warranted enough noise to be covered in detail within the analyst community in 2011.   However, depending with whom you subscribe, cloud brokerage has very different meanings.  While there has been definite progress on the behalf of the analyst community, I think the potential for what this model could mean for the cloud computing market goes much deeper.

To be clear, I believe the role of what I am calling the “infrastructure broker” will be the most significant movement in the computing industry since the advent of virtualization and cloud.

Before I get into the immense complexities of that statement, let’s take a look a few perspectives from key industry analysts:

Gartner:

According to Gartner research expert Benoit Lheureux, the role of the Cloud Service Broker (CSB) is to “aggregate and add value to cloud services by providing a single point of entry to different types of cloud services.”   Gartner goes on to illustrate some key defining characteristics of a cloud broker.  According to Gartner, a CSB is a CSB if they genuinely perform:

  • Aggregation across VARS and IT Distributors
  • Integration with Systems Integrators
  • Customization for SI’s and Professional Services organizations

Gartner’s definition of Cloud Brokerage is by far the lightest among the analysts.  If you believe Lheureux, Cloud Brokerage is really just the modernization of the IT channel.

451 Group:

451 generally consider the category of CSB a part of broader market called cloud on-ramps.   In addition to providing some sort of provisioning technology, CSBs differ “in that they provide a value-added economic function, which matches workloads to the best execution venues.”

While I think 451 only provides cursory attention to cloud brokerage as a concept, the are at least more directionally correct in the sense that they see Brokerage providing a level of sophistication that is unique in the delivery of cloud services – namely the concept of ‘workload matching’.

Forrester:

I think Forrester has done the best job among the research outfits when it comes to taking a seriously deep look at the CSB market definition.   Forrester sees the CSBCloud Value Propositionsplaying a pivotal role in the future of the entire industry.   Analyst Stefan Reid’s taxonomy picture does a fantastic job of identifying the interaction of different players.

According to Forrester, “the simple broker model gains value only by comparing similar cloud provider options and using dynamic provisioning based on the actual spot prices of these resources.”  This sounds similar to 451 and Gartner in direction and tone.

But Forrester goes on to elaborate on what they see the as the evolution of the brokerage model.  “The full broker [model] goes far beyond [the simple broker].  It uses “cloud bursting” to provide IT users with higher value for a lower price.”  Cloud Bursting, Forrester explains, “is the dynamic relocation of workloads from private environments to cloud providers and vice versa.”   I’ll admit a slight sigh when I hear the cloud ‘bursting’ term (again), but I think Forrester has a great grasp on the technical role of the broker.

Gartner sees brokering as little more than modern distribution.   451 sees the concept as something they instinctually must cover but the details are hazy.   Forrester has obviously put the most thought into their analysis.  But the consistent underlying theme within these analysts is that brokerage insinuates a model whereby vendors inserting themselves and their technology between supplier and consumer to provide a layer of transactional value.

The debate and discussion goes much deeper than this and the potential for the cloud broker is much more profound.

In Part II of this post we will take a closer look at the role of the intermediary and who is likely to take up this position in the market.

 

 


Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By John Cowan

John Cowan is co-founder and CEO of 6fusion. John is credited as 6fusion's business model visionary, bridging concepts and services behind cloud computing to the IT Service channel. In 2008, he along with his 6fusion collaborators successfully launched the industry's first single unit of meausurement for x86 computing, known as the Workload Allocation Cube (WAC). John is a 12 year veteran of business and product development within the IT and Telecommunications sectors and a graduate of Queen's University at Kingston.

Cloud Expo Breaking News
Next-Gen Cloud. Whatever you call it, there’s a higher calling for cloud computing that requires providers to change their spots and move from a commodity mindset to a premium one. Businesses can no longer maintain the status quo that today’s service providers offer. Yes, the continuity, speed, mobility, data access and connectivity are staples of the cloud and always will be. But cloud providers that plan to not only exist tomorrow – but to lead – know that security must be the top priority for the cloud and are delivering it now. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Kurt Hagerman, Chief Information Security Officer at FireHost, will detail why and how you can have both infrastructure performance and enterprise-grade security – and what tomorrow's cloud provider will look like.
The social media expansion has shown just how people are eager to share their experiences with the rest of the world. Cloud technology is the perfect platform to satisfy this need given its great flexibility and readiness. At Cynny, we aim to revolutionize how people share and organize their digital life through a brand new cloud service, starting from infrastructure to the users’ interface. A revolution that began from inventing and designing our very own infrastructure: we have created the first server network powered solely by ARM CPU. The microservers have “organism-like” features, differentiating them from any of the current technologies. Benefits include low consumption of energy, making Cynny the ecologically friendly alternative for storage as well as cheaper infrastructure, lower running costs, etc.
The revolution that happened in the server universe over the past 15 years has resulted in an eco-system that is more open, more democratically innovative and produced better results in technically challenging dimensions like scale. The underpinnings of the revolution were common hardware, standards based APIs (ex. POSIX) and a strict adherence to layering and isolation between applications, daemons and kernel drivers/modules which allowed multiple types of development happen in parallel without hindering others. Put simply, today's server model is built on a consistent x86 platform with few surprises in its core components. A kernel abstracts away the platform, so that applications and daemons are decoupled from the hardware. In contrast, networking equipment is still stuck in the mainframe era. Today, networking equipment is a single appliance, including hardware, OS, applications and user interface come as a monolithic entity from a single vendor. Switching between different vendor'...
More and more enterprises today are doing business by opening up their data and applications through APIs. Though forward-thinking and strategic, exposing APIs also increases the surface area for potential attack by hackers. To benefit from APIs while staying secure, enterprises and security architects need to continue to develop a deep understanding about API security and how it differs from traditional web application security or mobile application security. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will walk you through the various aspects of how an API could be potentially exploited. He will discuss the necessary best practices to secure your data and enterprise applications while continue continuing to support your business’s digital initiatives.
Web conferencing in a public cloud has the same risks as any other cloud service. If you have ever had concerns over the types of data being shared in your employees’ web conferences, such as IP, financials or customer data, then it’s time to look at web conferencing in a private cloud. In her session at 14th Cloud Expo, Courtney Behrens, Senior Marketing Manager at Brother International, will discuss how issues that had previously been out of your control, like performance, advanced administration and compliance, can now be put back behind your firewall.
Cloud backup and recovery services are critical to safeguarding an organization’s data and ensuring business continuity when technical failures and outages occur. With so many choices, how do you find the right provider for your specific needs? In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Daniel Jacobson, Technology Manager at BUMI, will outline the key factors including backup configurations, proactive monitoring, data restoration, disaster recovery drills, security, compliance and data center resources. Aside from the technical considerations, the secret sauce in identifying the best vendor is the level of focus, expertise and specialization of their engineering team and support group, and how they monitor your day-to-day backups, provide recommendations, and guide you through restores when necessary.
Cloud scalability and performance should be at the heart of every successful Internet venture. The infrastructure needs to be resilient, flexible, and fast – it’s best not to get caught thinking about architecture until the middle of an emergency, when it's too late. In his interactive, no-holds-barred session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will dive into how to design and build-out the right cloud infrastructure.
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. What about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver on new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for application developers and slow performance for end users. Further, as data sizes grow into the Big Data realm, this problem is exacerbated and becomes even more difficult to address. A seemingly simple schema change can take hours (or more) to perform, and as requirements evolve the disconnect between existing data structures and actual needs diverge.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SherWeb, a long-time leading provider of cloud services and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. A worldwide hosted services leader ranking in the prestigious North American Deloitte Technology Fast 500TM, and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, SherWeb provides competitive cloud solutions to businesses and partners around the world. Founded in 1998, SherWeb is a privately owned company headquartered in Quebec, Canada. Its service portfolio includes Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Dynamics CRM and more.
The world of cloud and application development is not just for the hardened developer these days. In their session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, and Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will pull back the curtain of the architecture of a fun demo application purpose-built for the cloud. They will focus on demonstrating how they leveraged compute, storage, messaging, and other cloud elements hosted at SoftLayer to lower the effort and difficulty of putting together a useful application. This will be an active demonstration and review of simple command-line tools and resources, so don’t be afraid if you are not a seasoned developer.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BUMI, a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Manhattan-based BUMI (Backup My Info!) is a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery. Founded in 2002, the company’s Here, There and Everywhere data backup and recovery solutions are utilized by more than 500 businesses. BUMI clients include professional service organizations such as banking, financial, insurance, accounting, hedge funds and law firms. The company is known for its relentless passion for customer service and support, and has won numerous awards, including Customer Service Provider of the Year and 10 Best Companies to Work For.
Chief Security Officers (CSO), CIOs and IT Directors are all concerned with providing a secure environment from which their business can innovate and customers can safely consume without the fear of Distributed Denial of Service attacks. To be successful in today's hyper-connected world, the enterprise needs to leverage the capabilities of the web and be ready to innovate without fear of DDoS attacks, concerns about application security and other threats. Organizations face great risk from increasingly frequent and sophisticated attempts to render web properties unavailable, and steal intellectual property or personally identifiable information. Layered security best practices extend security beyond the data center, delivering DDoS protection and maintaining site performance in the face of fast-changing threats.
From data center to cloud to the network. In his session at 3rd SDDC Expo, Raul Martynek, CEO of Net Access, will identify the challenges facing both data center providers and enterprise IT as they relate to cross-platform automation. He will then provide insight into designing, building, securing and managing the technology as an integrated service offering. Topics covered include: High-density data center design Network (and SDN) integration and automation Cloud (and hosting) infrastructure considerations Monitoring and security Management approaches Self-service and automation
In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, David Holmes, Vice President at OutSystems, will demonstrate the immense power that lives at the intersection of mobile apps and cloud application platforms. Attendees will participate in a live demonstration – an enterprise mobile app will be built and changed before their eyes – on their own devices. David Holmes brings over 20 years of high-tech marketing leadership to OutSystems. Prior to joining OutSystems, he was VP of Global Marketing for Damballa, a leading provider of network security solutions. Previously, he was SVP of Global Marketing for Jacada where his branding and positioning expertise helped drive the company from start-up days to a $55 million initial public offering on Nasdaq.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 14th Cloud Expo, Marc Jones, Vice President of Product Innovation for SoftLayer, will explain how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.