"Cloud brokerage and aggregation is today's version of systems integration," says Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director of THINKstrategies, a consulting firm that focuses on software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud computing.
Michael Cohn, senior vice president of marketing at Atlanta-based cloud solution provider Cloud Sherpas, suggests that cloud brokers mark the latest iteration of the IT channel, noting that such companies represent a merging of resellers, systems integrators and ISVs.
"The need for a channel has existed since the beginning of IT," he says. "The role we play is changing as IT moves from on-premise and data centers to the cloud. What you are seeing is the rise of the cloud solutions providers-or the cloud service brokerage, if you want to use Gartner's parlance."
Cohn says enterprise IT shops may not necessarily be skilled in conducting cloud migrations. In the case of mission-critical apps such as email, organizations don't want the added risk of a deployment going wrong, he adds, citing Office Depot and Dillard's as recent customers who have signed on Cloud Sherpas for help with a Google cloud rollout.
Enterprises, however, can-and do-serve as their own cloud brokers. Kaplan notes that CIOs and IT departments may build internal skills that let them tap external cloud resources, which are then deployed based on the cloud brokerage and aggregation idea. "In these cases, the IT department might acquire provisioning technology, which can be used to provide end-user/business unit access to their cloud services."
Examples of the in-house approach include the Defense Information Systems Agency, which the Pentagon earlier this year designated as its enterprise cloud service broker. DISA has been given the task of making it easier to integrate and consume cloud services, whether those services originate in the Department of Defense, other federal agencies or commercial vendors.
The broker provides an organizational focus point to consolidate cloud service demand at an enterprise level and negotiate for the best service usage rates across the DoD," Department of Defense CIO Teresa Takai wrote in a June memo.