It is widely expected that as the enterprise becomes more dependent on the cloud, IT’s role will shift from resource and infrastructure gatekeeper to service and application enabler. This is a positive development for all concerned because it means IT will finally be viewed as a facilitator of business productivity rather than a barrier.
Of course, on the cloud, the plethora of services grows exponentially, so it can be difficult at best for home-grown IT to identify and provision the best solution for a given problem. This is where the cloud broker comes in. A nascent industry, cloud brokerage is emerging as one of the hottest growth areas in the modern data age, catering to organizations struggling to leverage the cloud in the most efficient way possible.
According to Research and Markets, cloud brokerage is expanding at a 75 percent clip every year, driven in equal parts by high demand and the establishment of broad cloud interoperability standards that make it easier to provide bundled packages of previously disparate services and resources. This process is only just beginning, however, and the group notes that barriers to full integration could ultimately curb the brokerage industry before too long.
Naturally, as the current leader in cloud service provisioning, Amazon has drawn the lion’s share of third-party brokerage support. A company called Cloud Manager, for example, recently launched a new integrated services platform exclusively for Amazon Web Services. The system provides compilation, integration, acceleration and other services for AWS users, plus the ability to pair those services with leading business productivity platforms like Autotask. At the same time, it provides for service coordination through a single management interface and reduces the need to juggle multiple cloud providers and data connectivity architectures.
According to Gartner, 20 percent of all cloud services will be consumed through a service brokerage by 2015, up from about 5 percent today. Already the industry is starting to branch out into numerous specializations. Traditional brokerages, for example, pattern themselves on stocks or real estate brokers that act as the intermediary between buyers and sellers. Often, they perform a range of aggregation and arbitrage functions for a small portion of the service cost. Lately, however, a new type of software has emerged that sits on top of leading cloud platforms to act as an automated abstraction and mapping layer aimed at creating full computing solutions and then even handling the migration of data and applications between various clouds. Key examples include Gravitant, Incadence and JamCracker.
Just because the enterprise employs a broker, however, does not mean it needs to shed all vestiges of IT management and control. In-house techs will still be needed to define the framework of cloud-based infrastructure and establish policy-based governance and usage protocols. Even the best broker in the world is unlikely to appreciate all the nuances that make the enterprise service infrastructure tick.
The broker, then, acts as the facilitator for diverse cloud coordination and interoperability, but the final decision as to how to best serve the knowledge workforce will fall to IT.