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FCW : April 30, 2015
Agency managers began grappling with the cloud broker- age concept in 2011. At the time, the idea was that bro- kers would serve as intermediaries between cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services, and government customers. Brokers would handle the details of negotiat- ing contracts with vendors and acquire services on an agency’s behalf. Four years later, notions about what constitutes a cloud broker and what role it should play in the government market have changed considerably. That’s hardly surpris- ing given the fast-paced development of cloud technology. Some services have matured to the point of commoditiza- tion — for example, file sync-and-share services such as Dropbox — while other cloud deploy- ments have grown in sophistication. Similarly, workloads entrusted to the cloud have evolved from low-risk, pub- lic-facing websites to business-critical applications. Those changing market forces have encouraged govern- ment and industry executives to rethink and redefine cloud brokerages. Although the broker as contracting agent hasn’t entirely disappeared, other services are becoming more prominent. In some cases, brokers are starting to resemble the systems integrators of the 1990s as they pull together comprehensive solutions for customers. In other situations, brokers are taking on a consulting role and serv- ing as trusted cloud advisers for their government clients. Roopangi Kadakia, Web services executive at NASA, said brokers can serve a valuable role by helping agencies evaluate service providers and determine which platform will suit a given project. “The broker needs to have the ability to find the best services,” she said. Why it matters Federal agencies have made some headway in cloud adop- tion since the Office of Management and Budget launched its “cloud first” policy in 2010. The Government Account- ability Office recent- ly reviewed seven agencies and found that the number of cloud services they deployed grew from 21in2012to101in 2014. The agencies — Agriculture Depart- ment, General Ser- vices Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Home- land Security, Small Business Administra- tion, State Department and Treasury Department — bud- geted a collective $529 million for cloud services in fiscal 2014, a 72 percent increase over fiscal 2012 spending levels, according to a September 2014 GAO report. But the cloud accounts for a tiny slice of the govern- ment’s overall IT spending. The agencies GAO studied Cloud brokers, the sequel BY JOHN MOORE The broker definition continues to evolve as new roles emerge and cloud deployments become more complex 24 April 30, 2015 FCW.COM ExecTe c h EVENTS.OASIS-OPEN.ORGSHUTTERSTOCK 0430fcw_024-026.indd 24 4/7/15 11:53 AM
April 15, 2015
May 15, 2015