Click here to close now.


Containers Expo Blog Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Lori MacVittie

Blog Feed Post

Cloud Brokerage and the Future of the IT Utility

Abstract:  Cloud Brokerage is an emerging trend in the broader cloud computing industry.  Opinions differ widely about what it means to be a broker and the significance brokers will have on the future of the industry as a whole.    The reality is that the brokerage model signals the real potential to commoditize the compute utility, which will climax with the genesis of compute as a tradable commodity like soybeans, oil or minerals.  In this four part series we will take a deep dive into the concept of cloud brokerage and connect the dots between the key trends and market demands that will shape a force few in the industry see coming and fewer still are prepared to accept.

Part I:  The Analysts Weigh In

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has established a working paper on the subject of cloud brokerage, signaling the importance of a movement that is taking shape inside the cloud computing industry as a whole.

The NIST working document describes the Cloud Brokerage success criteria as follows:

cloud-user wishes to carry out an action on cloud-provider-1 using a federated interface, with no direct knowledge of cloud-provider-1 commands or interfaces. A cloud-management-broker offers the cloud-user a federated interface to multiple cloud-providers through a human user interface, an application programming interface or both.  The cloud-user selects desired cloud-provider-1 resources, action and action parameters using the cloud-management-broker interface.  The cloud-management-broker collects and marshals the selected action and parameters from the cloud-user‘s selection and issues the desired command to cloud-provider-1 using cloud-provider-1 native interface.

The idea of cloud brokerage warranted enough noise to be covered in detail within the analyst community in 2011.   However, depending with whom you subscribe, cloud brokerage has very different meanings.  While there has been definite progress on the behalf of the analyst community, I think the potential for what this model could mean for the cloud computing market goes much deeper.

To be clear, I believe the role of what I am calling the “infrastructure broker” will be the most significant movement in the computing industry since the advent of virtualization and cloud.

Before I get into the immense complexities of that statement, let’s take a look a few perspectives from key industry analysts:


According to Gartner research expert Benoit Lheureux, the role of the Cloud Service Broker (CSB) is to “aggregate and add value to cloud services by providing a single point of entry to different types of cloud services.”   Gartner goes on to illustrate some key defining characteristics of a cloud broker.  According to Gartner, a CSB is a CSB if they genuinely perform:

  • Aggregation across VARS and IT Distributors
  • Integration with Systems Integrators
  • Customization for SI’s and Professional Services organizations

Gartner’s definition of Cloud Brokerage is by far the lightest among the analysts.  If you believe Lheureux, Cloud Brokerage is really just the modernization of the IT channel.

451 Group:

451 generally consider the category of CSB a part of broader market called cloud on-ramps.   In addition to providing some sort of provisioning technology, CSBs differ “in that they provide a value-added economic function, which matches workloads to the best execution venues.”

While I think 451 only provides cursory attention to cloud brokerage as a concept, the are at least more directionally correct in the sense that they see Brokerage providing a level of sophistication that is unique in the delivery of cloud services – namely the concept of ‘workload matching’.


I think Forrester has done the best job among the research outfits when it comes to taking a seriously deep look at the CSB market definition.   Forrester sees the CSBCloud Value Propositionsplaying a pivotal role in the future of the entire industry.   Analyst Stefan Reid’s taxonomy picture does a fantastic job of identifying the interaction of different players.

According to Forrester, “the simple broker model gains value only by comparing similar cloud provider options and using dynamic provisioning based on the actual spot prices of these resources.”  This sounds similar to 451 and Gartner in direction and tone.

But Forrester goes on to elaborate on what they see the as the evolution of the brokerage model.  “The full broker [model] goes far beyond [the simple broker].  It uses “cloud bursting” to provide IT users with higher value for a lower price.”  Cloud Bursting, Forrester explains, “is the dynamic relocation of workloads from private environments to cloud providers and vice versa.”   I’ll admit a slight sigh when I hear the cloud ‘bursting’ term (again), but I think Forrester has a great grasp on the technical role of the broker.

Gartner sees brokering as little more than modern distribution.   451 sees the concept as something they instinctually must cover but the details are hazy.   Forrester has obviously put the most thought into their analysis.  But the consistent underlying theme within these analysts is that brokerage insinuates a model whereby vendors inserting themselves and their technology between supplier and consumer to provide a layer of transactional value.

The debate and discussion goes much deeper than this and the potential for the cloud broker is much more profound.

In Part II of this post we will take a closer look at the role of the intermediary and who is likely to take up this position in the market.



Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By John Cowan

John Cowan is co-founder and CEO of 6fusion. John is credited as 6fusion's business model visionary, bridging concepts and services behind cloud computing to the IT Service channel. In 2008, he along with his 6fusion collaborators successfully launched the industry's first single unit of meausurement for x86 computing, known as the Workload Allocation Cube (WAC). John is a 12 year veteran of business and product development within the IT and Telecommunications sectors and a graduate of Queen's University at Kingston.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT.
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program, to be aired during the peak viewership season of the year, will have a major impac...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, will look at different existing uses of peer-to-peer data sharing and how it can become useful in a live session to...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.