Cloud computing has opened up tremendous possibilities for any kind of business, whether it's a company taking advantage of cloud solutions, or vendors and custom developers using the cloud as a platform. Due to the proliferation of cloud services providers (CSPs), there is now a robust ecosystem of options for doing just about anything in the cloud.
Right now there are numerous choices in terms of solution delivery models, types of cloud architectures, and value-add services. Lots of choices translate into value for businesses -- but come at the price of complexity for choosing services, particularly since many organizations maintain a mix of cloud services. Companies wanting to gain the most advantage from multiple cloud services must weigh all the capabilities for each service, and what it will take to integrate each service into the overall systems infrastructure. With so many factors for making decisions, companies can turn to third parties to navigate a frequently difficult path.
Cloud services brokers (CSBs) have become an important arbiter of the desire to take advantage of cloud services. Cloud brokers act as an intermediary service between cloud service offerings and the business consumers of those services. CSBs assist with individual cloud strategies, and usually provide services for integration, aggregation and customization to pull together multiple cloud offerings to better meet business needs. As they currently exist, CSBs are expected to act as trusted advisors, without any preferences for particular cloud vendors.
With the growth of cloud brokering, supporting technology solutions are on the rise. The use of CSB enablement technologies provides essential capabilities for dynamic management and monitoring of cloud services. These solutions focus on centralized governance of multi-cloud services, including provisioning new services or reducing services usage as needed. The CSB-related technology market is quite vibrant, with analyst David Linthicum providing this assessment of potential market growth:
The CSB-enablement market focuses on those technologies that broker private and public cloud services, including the capabilities defined in this report. This market will grow from $225.42 million in 2013 to $2.03 billion by 2018, at a CAGR of 55.3 percent. The overall global CSB market will grow from $1.57 billion in 2013 to $10.5 billion by 2018, representing a CAGR of 46.2 percent, according to MarketsandMarkets.
To gain advantage from cloud services, companies have to overcome technical and strategic challenges to move work to the cloud in the first place. But the challenges continue after initial deployment and require the support of those who understand how the different services function, and interoperate with other cloud services. Often this support is provided by cloud services or managed services providers.
Debate continues as to whether cloud services brokers should offer more value-add services related to specific cloud offerings or should remain at arms-length from such offerings. Another wrinkle relates to the increasing number of existing cloud services providers that are delivering cloud brokering services. For either party, the obvious issue is conflict of interest. And in the case of cloud brokers who partner with CSPs, there is the issue of direct competition.
Some analysts maintain that brokers should stick to expertise in unifying services for businesses, helping them put together the best pricing while fulfilling needs with the right services. Understanding disparate solution architectures and licensing models is an important function that sets brokers apart from cloud services providers.
Image Source: baquia.com
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM's Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
About the author: Julie Hunt understands the overlap and convergence of many business processes and software solutions that once were thought of as "separate" – and how this impacts software Vendors and Buyers, as well as the strategies that enterprises implement for how technology supports the business and its customers. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitiveand on Twitter: @juliebhunt For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategies for B2B Software Solutions: Working from the Customer Perspective