The many meanings of “cloud broker”

From coverage of a keynote at Gartner DC:

That new role has less to do with managing disparate bits of infrastructure and more to do with selecting the best infrastructure strategy to provide a specific service. The toolbox they can select from includes on-premise or colocation data centers and cloud – private, public, or hybrid, on-prem or outsourced.

For as long as cloud has been around, the idea of a “cloud broker” has existed. For awhile, it meant software (or an “as a Service”) acting as a marketplace, like an App Store, that people would select IT services from.

It also can mean a market where you are continually buying the cheapest price, sort of arbitraging between the ever lowering costs of public clouds, some how magically loving workloads cheaply and quickly enough between these clouds to save money and time. You’ll hear people say “bursting” a lot here.

Of late I’ve noticed a more normal definition: the act of the IT department serving as a curator, service provider, and accountant for cloud services from vendors. I mean, that’s a large part of what IT has done all along, so it makes sense.

“The role of IT is shifting to become an intermediary between the customer and the data center and the service provider,” Bittman, a Gartner VP and distinguished analyst, said. “The service provider might be you, but it might be Google, or it might be Salesforce. It comes down to delegating responsibility.”

Today, digital business capabilities drive 18 percent of enterprise revenue, Raymond Paquet, a managing VP at Gartner, said. The analysts expect that portion to grow to 25 percent in two years and more than double by 2020, reaching 41 percent.

This last bit is what feels like s more dramatic change: IT being called on to help run the business, not just keep the lights on.

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