For the past few years we have been heralding the advent of Cloud in the Enterprise. Various reports have shown it to be imminent with many analysts and reports predicting that it is ‘just around the corner.’ However, larger Enterprises are still shying away from fully embracing the Cloud. Some of them are experimenting with it, some have gone ahead and embarked on studies, some of the more adventurous ones have actually moved towards it either by moving certain services to a Public Cloud or Private Cloud. Most often cited reasons for shying away from the Cloud include security, data location, integration and loss of control.
On the other hand, business users within these Enterprises may actually be going ahead and subscribing to SaaS based applications without even informing IT. All they need is a browser and they get instant access to all the functionalities. At times the adoption is a direct result of IT’s inability to move in an agile fashion to meet the business requirements. Such ‘rogue’ adoption of SaaS applications by business users leaves IT facing a major dilemma. They can’t totally prevent it but they certainly want to control it for reasons of governance, security and data integrity.
In such a scenario, the emerging model of a Cloud Broker can provide a valuable solution. Forrester, in a recent report (‘Cloud Broker – A New Business Model Paradigm’) has outlined that the ‘… Cloud broker model represents the most promising, but also the most ambitious, cloud approach.’
Essentially a Cloud broker acts as an intermediary between a set of Cloud based services (public or private) on the one hand and a set of enterprises / clients on the other. For a given Enterprise, the broker will enable mapping of an Enterprise to multiple cloud public / private services, provisioning of users across these services, handling of multiple contracts (with different Cloud service providers), integrated billing and usage and finally switching between Private and Public Cloud environments – Cloud bursting across these if necessary. Forrester has also pointed out that a broker may also have its own application store for Cloud services as well as provide components that include help with content delivery, a billing engine for integrated billing as well as metering solutions to track usage.
We may still be some years away from the true promise of Cloud services as utilities that can be essentially turned on based on demand. However, in my opinion a Cloud broker model will certainly help towards moving us in that direction.
What do you think?