Refining my thinking around Cloud Brokers and Brokerages.

clip_image002The concept of cloud brokerage is an interesting one to me. First off there are the definitions both the traditional definition of a broker and the NIST definition of a cloud broker. An aggregator of cloud services is what NIST defines as a Cloud Broker. The traditional market definition is more focused on the move towards brokers in a market. The definition there being once an economy gets to a level of maturity that services and goods can be aggregated they will be. If you think about the evolution of grocery stores over the past 100 years you see the broker model in action.

What will the aisles of the future cloud broker look like? What goods and services will brokers provide? That is the question that I think is still being formed. First off cloud brokers will be service aggregators. Not just simply aggregating cloud specific services but aggregating services with the intent of augmenting the abilities of an organization. From implementing end to end security to delivering services that are intelligent.

clip_image004Intelligent services are the initial topic of consideration. This is not technology for technologies sake. This is the logical market move to Hybrid computing. A model where IT as a Service (ITaaS) becomes more real. Consulting companies have sprung up in the computer world over the past 50 years. The reason is that there are specialized skills that are in the end very expensive to keep on staff. Renting those expensive skills for the two weeks you need them, is far more cost effective. Hybrid IT offers us an opportunity to expand the components of ITaaS. The concepts moving towards the aggregated services that a broker can offer to its customers and improve everyone’s service. Consider for example of CIRT. Computer incident response teams to spell out the acronym. Today many organizations have their own CIRTS and will continue to do so for the future. But many don’t, being able to share the CIRT as part of a market broker offering would be a significant value add. Operations, management and other traditional IT components could also be offered. Overtime the concept of on premise computing could evolve. Many startups today go straight to the cloud. As brokers evolve many startups are going straight to a broker. You get more service for the same money.

It isn’t that aggregation is the goal. It is the goal to improve the quality of services delivered and automate everything that can be automated. Having a cloud broker as your partner increases the organizations ability to automate.

clip_image006One of the market trends in broker that I think has slipped away is the value of application transition. Today there are a number of companies (do a good search) that offer cloud broker software. There are a number of companies that offer application migration (automated) software. The concept as demonstrated in this initial diagram of application containers adds even more potential. Automated migration tools integrated first with the various cloud application containers (Docker and others) is a way to begin considering additional security during application transitions. We can in a very rapid fashion move our applications from one side of our Cloud Service Provider (CSP) to another. Or for that matter with the automated tools quickly move our application from X CSP, that increases our bill this month to Y CSP during an outage window. Now automated application migration has a number of considerations that will have to occur. You can move any application but if you don’t know how the application works and where it is most stressed you can end up pushing an application into a bad performance scenario. But that merging of containers, automated application migration and cloud broker solutions is where the value will be.

I will continue refining this conversation. For links to previous posts on the topic please see below:

1. http://safegov.org/2014/4/30/a-view-of-cloud-brokers-future

2. http://safegov.org/2013/8/14/cloud-broker-will-replace-dmz-in-the-long-term

3. http://cloudtweaks.com/2014/05/many-interpretations-cloud-brokers/

4. http://cloudtweaks.com/2014/07/cloud-service-providers-broker/

more to come…

 

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.