How the role of the cloud “middleman” is changing

The role of cloud broker takes on new meaning as the cloud market matures. Cloud customers are no longer looking for discrete cloud services, but rather multiple cloud offerings – potentially across different vendors – to meet their unique business needs. But customers cannot combine disparate cloud services on their own.

Cloud Broker Services have evolved into three unique roles in response to these new demands: Cloud Aggregator, Cloud Services Broker Enabler, and Cloud Customizer, said Tiffani Bova, vice president of the research channel innovation and sales strategies for Stamford, Connecticut. -based Gartner Inc. Each broker model offers its own view of the evolving cloud brokerage market and will help drive the adoption of cloud services by providing the right level of advice and integration, she said.

The cloud broker as an aggregator

Cloud aggregators build relationships with cloud providers and make the services of those providers available to the end customer. Cloud aggregators bring multiple cloud services together in a single user interface and manage billing, governance, and security for the customer. Cloud aggregators tend to be businesses with large existing customer bases, such as telecom operators and large IT distributors, Bova said.

The Cloud Services Broker Enabler

Cloud Service Broker Enablers Empower cloud aggregators by maintaining the cloud aggregation platform used by aggregators. Cloud enablers, such as Jamcracker and AppDirect, have the technology used by large hosting providers and telecom operators to power their aggregation platforms or cloud markets, Bova said.

The broker as a cloud customizer

Cloud aggregators can help customers acquire disparate cloud services, but they don’t integrate and customize those services. Cloud customizers are taking over to deliver fully integrated sets of cloud services. Customizers select cloud services on behalf of their customers, based on the needs of the end user, Bova said. “Cloud customizers might take something [Cisco] WebEx, an offer of Amazon and [one from] Microsoft Office 365 and aggregate [them] on a single invoice for customers. ” She said. “Customizers are integrating all the services to work together and sell this new offering in their own packaging, like ‘Collaboration as a service for small businesses,’” she said. While this is Customizer’s single cloud service set, the new offering is powered by several disparate cloud services.

Putting these new cloud broker roles into practice

Appirio, a cloud services broker and cloud customizer, works with many cloud providers, like Saleforce.com, Workday inc. and Google platforms – for the implementation and development of custom applications. Some business customers may be interested in a particular cloud provider or service, but the offering may not meet their business needs from the start.

“Customers see us as a partner who can go beyond the implementation and offer the customization of a standard offering, as well as the integration with the enterprise software that is really necessary for complex infrastructures”, said Glenn Weinstein, CTO of Appirio.

Cloud customization is done by the Appirio development team, and the typical cloud broker client project focuses on extending Software as a Service platforms beyond what a cloud provider partner. typical might deliver, Weinstein said. “Salesforce partners stick to the heart CRM [customer relationship management] process, but Appirio could integrate business processes beyond standard CRM, ”he said.

Some verticals do business with cloud brokers more than others, Weinstein said. “In order to meet the needs of our customers, we find ourselves offering more industry specific solutions and bundles, such as media and financial services,” he said.

Cloud brokerage services: how will the market continue to change?

Although cloud brokers come in many different forms, they can evolve into middlemen who neither own any hardware nor provide services – just companies that match buyers and sellers, said Lynda Stadtmueller, program director of services at cloud computing for Frost &, based in San Antonio. Sullivan Inc.

“We will not have a real brokerage in the cloud until we have a general belief that [cloud] is a commodity market, the units are consistent across the board and price is the driver, ”she said. “The market is not there yet. “

Brokers as middlemen are also likely to become a more popular way to sell cloud services for providers, Gartner’s Bova said. “[Providers] can go out and strike a deal with both small businesses, or they can strike a deal with the five biggest carriers in the US that can target hundreds of small businesses that already trust their carrier. ” , she said. able to reach customers they may not have previously accessed. “

Let us know what you think of the story; E-mail: Gina Narcisi, journalist, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.



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