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FCW : April 30, 2015
NIST’s two-part definition underscores the divergence between the administrative go-between in the earlier vision and the broadening role of the broker. NASA is working through this transition with its cloud broker, InfoZen. Last year, the company helped NASA migrate websites and applications to the cloud. Kadakia said InfoZen has been providing acquisition support and working with cloud service providers on the agency’s behalf. But NASA plans to migrate cloud management duties to its Computer Services Service Office, which will purchase services directly from providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google. The office will negotiate and hold master contracts, and serve as a resource for the entire agency. Kadakia said that approach will help the agency main- tain consistency in how it manages cloud service provid- ers. As a result, the broker will get out of the acquisition business and become more of an adviser. She said one of the biggest advantages of using a bro- ker is the ability to thoroughly analyze a particular cloud service. Many people might want to go directly to a cloud provider to buy a file sync-and-share service, for example, but in doing so, they don’t receive the benefit of having the broker study the requirements and assess different cloud options, she added. “The cloud broker would want to do that analysis and look at the alternatives and provide some options on what the best solution is,” Kadakia said. Raj Ananthanpillai, CEO and president of InfoZen, said his company still handles cloud procurement for some customers, but that service is largely commoditized these days. Instead, the company focuses on helping custom- ers identify requirements and securely migrate complex systems to the cloud. Mark Pietrasanta, chief technology officer at Aquilent, agreed that customers are looking for a more highly spe- cialized set of services from cloud brokers. “Buying cloud isn’t the hard problem at this point,” he added. “It is very commoditized.” The hurdles Cloud brokers face a couple of obstacles that could hinder adoption, including the lack of a definitive, widely accepted definition of what a cloud broker does. “‘Cloud broker’ means different things to different peo- ple,” Pietrasanta said. The types of companies offering brokerage services might also contribute to the ambiguity. For instance, some cloud service providers say they can also play the broker role and will consider other service providers — not just themselves — when sizing up a customer’s needs. Given that potential conflict of interest, “I don’t think a cloud services provider can be the independent broker,” Kadakia said. Another challenge is a maturing market that could reduce the need for a broker as cloud services become even easier to buy. The Pentagon is taking that route with its recently revised cloud policy. In December 2014, DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen issued a memo permitting DOD com- ponents to “acquire cloud services directly.” In addition, the Federal Risk and Authorization Man- agement Program eliminates some of the security vetting that a broker might otherwise conduct. However, industry executives said brokers still have room to evaluate cloud security beyond the measures certified under FedRAMP. What’s more, FedRAMP won’t help customers under- stand why they should select one provider over another when it comes to factors such as performance, bandwidth and platform expertise, said Shawn McCarthy, a research director at IDC Government Insights. Among other things, brokers can make recommendations based on differences in the size of workloads providers are capable of support- ing, he added. n ExecTe c h 26 April 30, 2015 FCW.COM Next steps 1. Expanded definitions. The National Institute of Standards and Technology plans to revisit how it defines brokers and the other players in the cloud field: providers, carriers and auditors. More devel- opments could emerge later this year. 2. More contracts. The General Services Adminis- tration awarded a $64.5 million contract to Booz Allen Hamilton in October 2014 to develop a cloud service broker solution for GSA’s Integrated Award Environment Office. And in November, GSA award- ed a $100 million blanket purchase agreement under which Aquilent will provide cloud services from providers including Amazon Web Services. 3. Continued growth. Despite a few hurdles, the broker segment appears poised for expansion. MarketsandMarkets predicts that the global cloud services brokerage market will grow from $1.57 bil- lion in 2013 to $10.5 billion in 2018. — John Moore 0430fcw_024-026.indd 26 4/7/15 11:53 AM
April 15, 2015
May 15, 2015