Cloud Brokers, Aggregators, and Integrators -- Oh My!
When one cloud can’t do it all, businesses can turn to Cloud Services Brokers to help bring everything together.
This cloud, that cloud, which clouds? So far there is not one cloud that does it all, especially for Software as a Service (SaaS) and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). Can I subscribe to UC as a single complete service, or must there be multiple services combined together? What about archiving, backup, and security? Can one service do it all?
Enter the cloud aggregator or broker who may be called a Cloud Services Broker (CSB). The broker, aggregator, and integrator may be the same or different organizations.
Gartner's forecast for cloud service brokerage shows that this market will nearly double in size over a four-year period, reaching $160 billion by 2018. This is reported by Gartner in "Forecast: Public Cloud Service Brokerage, 4Q14."Cloud Brokers
A cloud broker is a third-party organization, consultant, VAR, or person that functions as an intermediary between the cloud IT services subscriber and the sellers of those services. An IT cloud broker is someone who acts as an intermediary between two or more parties during negotiations, like a real estate agent.
The broker's role can be to save the subscriber time by researching services and providing the customer with information about how to use cloud computing to support business goals. The broker works with the customer to determine the work processes, implementation needs, financial goals, and data management requirements. The broker provides a short list of recommended cloud providers, and the subscriber directly contacts the provider(s) of choice to arrange services. A cloud broker can also be assigned the rights to negotiate contracts with cloud providers on behalf of the subscriber.Cloud Aggregator
A cloud aggregator is a modified version of cloud broker that accepts greater responsibilities, and assembles and integrates multiple cloud services into one or more combined services. This integration can include services from multiple cloud providers and can be more cost-effective than purchasing each service separately. The cloud aggregator can benefit from charging a premium for providing more than a straightforward resale agreement.Cloud Integrator
A cloud integrator is a function (product or service) that supports an organization with negotiating the cloud migration complexities. A cloud integrator service is comparable to a systems integrator that specializes in cloud computing. The hybrid cloud integration consists of at least one private cloud or on-premises system and one public cloud. Integrating enterprise applications and other business resources in such an environment can be complicated because of the combination of resources -- some owned, and some by subscription. This means that the organization does not have direct control over all the resources. Once the integration is completed, the integrator can provide on-going support or have no further responsibilities. The integrator does not usually provide cloud services.Cloud Service Brokerage
Cloud services brokerage (CSB) is the latest term that defines the IT role and packaging business model that adds value to one or more (public or private) cloud services. This is performed on behalf of one or more subscribers of that service. There are three primary brokerage roles, including aggregation, integration, and customization:
Legal and Business Implications
Those who claim to offer CSB argue who is, or is not, a CSB. The definition can be interpreted in more than one way. This is important because the responsibilities of a CSB may be inconsistent across multiple providers.
Some of the concerns are:
- Who is the primary contact for operations, reliability, billing, and problem resolution?
- Is the subscriber protected from provider problems?
- What are the responsibilities and authority of the negotiator?
- What happens if a cloud provider is acquired, merges with another provider, goes out of business, or has legal or compliance problems with governments?
- Does the addition of another participant in the supply chain (CSB) create more complexity?
- Is the CSB truly independent of providers? This may be impossible since the CSB has to have some relationship with its chosen providers.
- If you do not buy direct from providers, what responsibilities does the CSB accept or reject?
If you have the staff, a CSB may end up duplicating what you can do for yourself. The smaller the IT staff, the fewer resources are available for dealing with multiple cloud services. Then a CSB can be a very useful assistant to the IT organization.
I have posted many blogs on cloud subjects including The Cloud Isn't Everything -- You Need a Guide, Cloud Economics or Flexibility?, The SLA's Burden on the Enterprise, Moving to the Cloud: The Contract, Getting Cloud Credit, and Securing Cloud Sites.
Learn more about cloud communications trends and technologies at Enterprise Connect 2016, March 7 to 10, in Orlando, Fla. View the Cloud Communications track sessions; register now using the code NJPOST to receive $200 off the current conference price.