Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: SmartBear Blog, Anders Wallgren, Cloud Best Practices Network, Elizabeth White, Jason Bloomberg

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, Government Cloud, @BigDataExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Government Steps up to Define Cloud Brokering

US Department of Energy: Proving the cloud service broker model

Emerging markets don’t generally follow smooth, predictable paths. Rather, they struggle and jerk unexpectedly, much like an eaglet escaping from its shell. Vendors, analysts, and pundits may seek to define such markets, but typically fall short. After all, vendors don’t establish markets. Customers do.

Today, cloud computing is still in its birth throes. Yes, many organizations are now achieving value in the cloud, but many more still struggle to understand its true value proposition as cloud service providers (CSPs) and vendors mature their offerings in the space. One problem: cloud computing is not a single market. It is in fact many interrelated markets, as its core service models, infrastructure-, platform-, and software as a service (SaaS), fragment as though they were so many pieces of eggshell.


To bring order to this chaos, a new sub-market of the broader cloud-computing market has emerged: the cloud service broker (CSB). Envision some kind of cloud middleman, helping to cut through the plethora of cloud options and services by offering…well, just what a CSB offers isn’t quite clear. And that’s the problem with the whole notion of a CSB. The market has yet to fully define it.

Not that there aren’t plenty of perspectives on just what a CSB should actually do, mind you. If anything, there are too many opinions, prompting arguments among bloggers and confusion among customers.

Gartner claims CSBs should offer aggregation, integration, and customization, while Forrester delineates simple cloud brokers, full infrastructure brokers, and SaaS brokers – at least initially. And then there’s the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), who calls for CSBs to provide aggregation, intermediation, and arbitrage, specifically for brokers that would serve the US federal government.

There’s only one way to cut through this confusion: talk to an organization who not only figured out what they wanted from a CSB, but also built one themselves.

But poke around the blogosphere, and many other CSB features come to light. Management is a huge requirement -- or two requirements, actually, as some organizations have needs that focus on business management, while others focus more on the technical aspects of management.

And what about assessments? Shouldn’t your broker assess CSPs who wish to join the CSB, providing some kind of thumbs-up before providers can participate? Then there are the questions about the nature and configuration of the CSB itself. Is it internal to the organization, or a third party much like a real-estate broker might be? And finally, is the broker essentially a software solution, or is it an organization or team in its own right, where software plays a support role to what are essentially a set of brokering business processes?

There’s only one way to cut through this confusion: talk to an organization who not only figured out what they wanted from a CSB, but also built one themselves. The organization in question: the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an agency of the United States Department of Energy (DOE).

Management and security

According to its Web site, NNSA is responsible for the management and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, naval reactor programs, and related activities. Under the auspices of Deputy Chief Technology Officer Anil Karmel, NNSA and the Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) implemented a CSB they call YOURcloud, in collaboration with partners in the contractor community.

According to Karmel, YOURcloud both leverages and supports the DOE’s Information on Demand (IoD) strategy. It provides a self-service portal for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings across multiple CSPs, including on-premise, community, and public cloud services like Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). YOURcloud balances a diversity of choices among IaaS providers for various DOE programs while allowing those programs to maintain full autonomy of their cloud workloads.

YOURcloud users include DOE users, laboratory and plant users, other government agency users, support contractors, and members of the public. DOE business use cases for the CSB include rapid deployment of servers to scientists, security controls based on data sensitivity, calculating energy savings, disaster recovery, and capital expenditure reduction. And of course, security is a paramount concern.

Karmel describes YOURcloud as a “Cloud of Clouds.” In other words, it’s a secure hybrid CSB that incorporates both on-premise and public cloud offerings. This approach gives them a unified management control plane for IaaS and IoD, and in fact, this technical management capability is central to the role of the CSB at NNSA.

The central problem that led NNSA to build YOURcloud was their desire to deploy cloud services rapidly.

The central problem that led NNSA to build YOURcloud was their desire to deploy cloud services rapidly. Before the debut of the broker, cloud deployments had taken 70 days or more, according to Karmel.

NNSA also required a comprehensive security plan that was more sophisticated than the security capabilities other CSBs, both in production as well as on the drawing board, might offer. To this end, YOURcloud delivers software-defined security covering network, storage, and compute resources. It provides adaptive security that covers both NNSA’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) as well as service enclaves.

In fact, the notion of service enclaves is central to how YOURcloud deals with security. It’s possible to partition enclaves so that an organization can use one cloud, while protecting sensitive data from users who lack the credentials to access the information in that cloud.

In essence, enclaves provide a container for both workloads and configurations. After a program creates an enclave, it establishes role-based access control (RBAC) by assigning permissions to the organization’s technical staff. In the future, YOURcloud will also provide a shared services enclave that will provide the foundation for enterprise “app store” functionality for the DOE broadly and NNSA in particular.

Critical function
Organization-centric user registration is also a critical function of the CSB. NNSA requires that YOURcloud identify each participating organizations’ top-level contacts in part to prevent unnecessary organization overlap. Users include technical contacts who select providers, create enclaves, grant permissions, and manage configurations. In particular, security contacts provide organizational firewall control, while billing contacts handle billing statement controls.

Cost reduction is one of the most trumpeted benefits of cloud computing, but the government procurement context complicates the ability of departments to leverage the cloud’s utility model. It’s essential, therefore, for YOURcloud to define the cost structure for IaaS, including the duration of the infrastructure services as well as the mechanism for payment.

Simple pay-as-you-go pricing, however, won’t work for the DOE. The risk with such pricing, of course, is the possibility of an unexpectedly large bill. Such unpredictability is inconsistent with normal government procurement processes. Instead, agencies require full allocation, meaning a fixed price for a maximum level of consumption of cloud services. YOURcloud facilitates this full allocation pricing model, and also enables programs to turn off cloud services and hold them for future use. In effect, delivery of the CSB enables the DOE to save money while simultaneously providing an agnostic platform for innovation.

Since NNSA is a government agency, it’s no surprise that YOURcloud follows NIST’s definition of a CSB more closely than Gartner’s or Forrester’s. In fact, YOURcloud exhibits all three of NIST’s CSB capabilities: aggregation, intermediation, and arbitrage. Not only does YOURcloud aggregate pre-approved CSPs, it provides both business intermediation as well technical intermediation.

Perhaps the most important asset YOURcloud brings to the table for DOE is how well it supports program autonomy.

The current version of YOURcloud also has limited arbitrage capabilities in the form of a dynamic cost calculator, as well as chargeback and showback functionality (showback refers to providing management with an analysis of the IT costs due to each department, without actually charging those costs back to the departments).

Perhaps the most important asset YOURcloud brings to the table for DOE is how well it supports program autonomy. YOURcloud allows programs within the DOE to maintain full control over their workloads within the context of a common security baseline. Karmel’s cloud-of-clouds approach enables YOURcloud to broker any organization, through any device, to any service. This respect for program autonomy addresses the “not invented here” problem: program managers can leverage the capabilities of YOURcloud without feeling like the broker is pushing them to select services or follow policies that are not in line with their requirements.

It’s not clear how well YOURcloud will define the characteristics of CSBs across the entire cloud-computing market, but NNSA’s efforts have not gone without notice within the federal government. CSBs are a hot topic across both civilian and military agencies, with the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) both fleshing out their respective CSB strategies.

That being said, there is no better way to prove a model than by implementing a working, successful example. By implementing a CSB that supports secure, hybrid Cloud environments, NNSA and the DOE have set the bar for the next generation of Cloud Service Brokers.

This BriefingsDirect guest post comes courtesy of Jason Bloomberg, managing partner at ZapThink.

You may also be interested in:

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@CloudExpo Stories
As the world moves towards more DevOps and microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, an Architect/Developer Evangeli...
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Key Information Systems, Inc. (KeyInfo), a leading cloud and infrastructure provider offering integrated solutions to enterprises, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Key Information Systems is a leading regional systems integrator with world-class compute, storage and networking solutions and professional services for the most advanced softwa...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting will feature upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special IoT documentary which will be filmed on the expo floor November 3 to 5, 2015 in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to BBC in UK and the largest in Asia with many award winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program will be aired during the highest viewership season of ...
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Luxoft Holding, Inc., a leading provider of software development services and innovative IT solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Luxoft’s software development services consist of core and mission-critical custom software development and support, product engineering and testing, and technology consulting.
According to Forrester, public cloud platforms are evolving, blurring the lines between Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) in order to satisfy the needs of enterprises and widen their appeal to developers. In The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms, Q4 2014, Forrester evaluates the 16 most significant Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms and details how each vendor fulfills the 19 evaluation criteria points.
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
The modern software development landscape consists of best practices and tools that allow teams to deliver software in a near-continuous manner. By adopting a culture of automation, measurement and sharing, the time to ship code has been greatly reduced, allowing for shorter release cycles and quicker feedback from customers and users. Still, with all of these tools and methods, how can teams stay on top of what is taking place across their infrastructure and codebase? Hopping between services a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
The cloud has reached mainstream IT. Those 18.7 million data centers out there (server closets to corporate data centers to colocation deployments) are moving to the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Achim Weiss, CEO & co-founder of ProfitBricks, will share how two companies – one in the U.S. and one in Germany – are achieving their goals with cloud infrastructure. More than a case study, he will share the details of how they prioritized their cloud computing infrastructure deployments ...
Interested in leveraging automation technologies and a cloud architecture to make developers more productive? Learn how PaaS can benefit your organization to help you streamline your application development, allow you to use existing infrastructure and improve operational efficiencies. Begin charting your path to PaaS with OpenShift Enterprise.
Data loss happens, even in the cloud. In fact, if your company has adopted a cloud application in the past three years, data loss has probably happened, whether you know it or not. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bryan Forrester, Senior Vice President of Sales at eFolder, will present how common and costly cloud application data loss is and what measures you can take to protect your organization from data loss.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief Architect at CTS, will explore the synergy of Big Data and IoT. First he will take a closer look at the Internet of Things and Big Data individually, in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. Then he will explore the relationship between IoT and Big Data. Specifically, he will drill down to how the 4Vs aspects intersect with IoT: Volume, Variety, Velocity and Value. In turn, Tony will analyze how the key components of IoT ...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
As-a-service models offer huge opportunities, but also complicate security. It may seem that the easiest way to migrate to a new architectural model is to let others, experts in their field, do the work. This has given rise to many as-a-service models throughout the industry and across the entire technology stack, from software to infrastructure. While this has unlocked huge opportunities to accelerate the deployment of new capabilities or increase economic efficiencies within an organization, i...
“All our customers are looking at the cloud ecosystem as an important part of their overall product strategy. Some see it evolve as a multi-cloud / hybrid cloud strategy, while others are embracing all forms of cloud offerings like PaaS, IaaS and SaaS in their solutions,” noted Suhas Joshi, Vice President – Technology, at Harbinger Group, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff.