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July 9, 2009

Service brokers hold key to cloud adoption

Gartner outlines brokerage opportunity for service providers

By CBR Staff Writer

Gartner has highlighted an emerging need for governance in the provisioning and use of cloud services, saying they can only be used in safety and with confidence if access, performance and delivery is managed by cloud service brokerages.

“The future of cloud computing will be permeated with the notion of brokers negotiating relationships between providers of cloud services and the service customers,” it said.

A broker might be software, an appliance, a platform or a suite of technologies, and its job is to enhance the base services available through the cloud, Gartner has explained. “Enhancement will include managing access to these services, providing greater security or even creating completely new services.” 

As with service-oriented architecture before it, cloud services are rife with data integration issues and integrity problems, the analyst house has confirmed. It predicts that as cloud services are adopted, cloud service brokerages will use several types of brokers and platforms to enhance service delivery, and, ultimately, service value.

These cloud service brokerages could take one of three guises, according to Gartner. 

Intermediation brokers would provide identity management or access management services and the like, and could also supervise pricing and billing. 

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So-called aggregation brokers sit in the same position as the application layer in traditional computing, offering services that are generally fixed and won’t change frequently. 

Where services aren’t fixed, cloud service arbitrage providers would offer flexibility and opportunistic choices for the service aggregator. An example noted is in the provision of multiple e-mail services or credit-scoring services, through a single provider.

“The growth of service brokerage businesses will increase the ability of cloud consumers to use services in a trustworthy manner” Gartner concluded, as one of its findings in a special report on cloud adoption.

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