As cloud computing evolves, combinations of cloud services will be too complex and untrustworthy for end consumers to handle their integration.
Gartner predicts that as cloud services are adopted, the ability to govern their use, performance and delivery will be provided by cloud service brokerages. These brokerages will use several types of brokers and platforms to enhance service delivery, and, ultimately, service value.
"With the evolution of cloud computing, one inescapable reality continues to surface and that is, as with service-oriented architecture before it, the fact that cloud computing promotes the idea of continuous proliferation of services," says Daryl Plummer, managing vice president and chief Gartner Fellow. "Unfortunately, using services created by others and ensuring that they¹ll work – not only separately, but also together – are complicated tasks, rife with data integration issues, integrity problems and the need for relationship management. Hence the role of brokers to add value to services and to deliver new services built and delivered on top of old services."
Frank Kenney, research director of Gartner, adds: "The future of cloud computing will be permeated with the notion of brokers negotiating relationships between providers of cloud services and the service customers.
"In this context, a broker might be software, appliances, platforms or suites of technologies that enhance the base services available through the cloud. Enhancement will include managing access to these services, providing greater security or even creating completely new services."
Although cloud service brokers may be delivered through technology, there is still a need for brokerage businesses to exist to take advantage of the brokers. A brokerage is a service whereas a broker may simply be B2B technology, and Gartner believes that cloud service brokerages (CSBs) are one of the most necessary and attainable opportunities for cloud service providers. CSBs will broker relationships between a service consumer and a service provider.
Gartner divides CSB businesses into three main categories:
* Cloud service intermediation – An intermediation broker provides a service that directly enhances a given service delivered to one or more service consumers, essentially adding value on top of a given service to enhance some specific capability. CSBs will offer intermediation for multiple services of any kind such as identity management or access management. Individual cloud service consumers will acquire these intermediation services through some consumer-focused service providers, such as AT&T, Verizon, Telestra or Virgin Media. Intermediation brokers could also supervise pricing and billing. Intermediation brokerages and the broker products that support them will exist in three places. First they may reside in the cloud at the service provider¹s location, allowing the provider to deliver a level of governance beyond the original service. Second, the broker may reside at the consumer's location and may allow local management or administration of service levels. Finally, the service broker may exist in the cloud as a service and in this situations, a true brokerage service business exists independent of the original service provider or the consumer.
* Aggregation – It¹s unlikely that consumer organisations or individuals will be able to provide the data integration, process integrity or intermediation needed to bring multiple services together. An aggregation brokerage service combines multiple services into one or more new services. It will ensure that data is modelled across all component services and integrated as well as ensuring the movement and security of data between the service consumer and multiple providers. These aggregation brokers will exist primarily in the cloud as service providers in their own right, forming a layer of service provisions that approximates the application layer in traditional computing. In aggregation-style brokerages, the services brokered are generally fixed and won¹t change frequently.
* Cloud service arbitrage – Cloud service arbitrage is similar to cloud service aggregation. The difference between them is that the services being aggregated aren¹t fixed. Indeed the goal of arbitrage is to provide flexibility and opportunistic choices for the service aggregator e.g. providing multiple e-mail services through one service provider or providing a credit-scoring service that checks multiple scoring agencies and selects the best score.
"What sits between you and the cloud will become a critical success factor in cloud computing as cloud services multiply and expand faster than the ability of cloud consumers to manage or govern them in use," says Plummer. "The growth of service brokerage businesses will increase the ability of cloud consumers to use services in a trustworthy manner. Cloud service providers must begin to partner with cloud brokerages to ensure that they can deliver the services they promote."