The Cloud Broker
The dictionary defines a “broker” as “a person who functions as an intermediary between two or more parties in negotiating agreements, bargains, or the like.” Almost all of us, at some point in our lives, have utilized the services of a broker. From renting apartments to trading stocks, the role of the broker in facilitating transactions is common. Even nations are not unfamiliar with this term, with the United States having “brokered” peace between Egypt and Israel after the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Now, it seems, cloud computing is also experiencing this phenomenon.
The role of cloud brokering is not new. Back in 2009, IT research giant Gartner had released a report predicting the rise of the phenomenon. “With the evolution of cloud computing, one inescapable reality continues to surface, and that is, as with service-oriented architecture before it, the fact that cloud computing promotes the idea of continuous proliferation of services,” Daryl Plummer, managing vice president and Chief Gartner Fellow had commented. “Unfortunately, using services created by others and ensuring that they’ll work – not only separately, but also together – are complicated tasks, rife with data integration issues, integrity problems and the need for relationship management. Hence the role of brokers to add value to services and to deliver new services built and delivered on top of old services.”
Now, this definitely seems to be a service that can add value. Though the cloud computing industry is still very much in the growth phase, it is no longer a field where a few big players rule the roost. Every other day you hear of some new startup receiving funding, and if you are a business stakeholder, some of these startups may have products that are just right for you. The problem is how to find them with their limited visibility? It’s not only in matching requirements to capabilities that cloud brokers can add value; they can help you get the best deal for your money.
In fact, as David Linthicum wrote in InfoWorld, cloud brokers can adopt two different roles – active and passive. While an active cloud broker “may provide dynamic access to different cloud providers based on cost and performance data, and they could use different cloud providers at different times, based on what best serves their clients,” passive brokers operate mainly by providing information about the best options for a client.
Cloud brokering has also been mentioned earlier on CloudTweaks. From cloud brokers’ ability to combine private and public clouds into relevant hybrid clouds to Verizon’s acquisition of CloudSwitch last year, readers are not alien to the concept.
With the emergence of a greater variety of cloud computing providers and accompanying services, one can expect the number of cloud brokers to increase substantially. However, a client will have to be careful about potential conflicts of interest and ensure that the broker is not taking money from both parties in order to secure a deal.
By Sourya Biswas