It's the same process we've seen in the past as new technologies move from introduction to mass adoption, from the internet and web commerce, to modern communication. Cloud computing isn't any different.
Start with the money aspect and cloud computing will ultimately mean an end to the ‘suit and box' culture that the traditional, inefficient, profiteering IT supply chain relied upon. It removes the need for extensive consultation and the up-front costs of shipping equipment across the globe. Not to mention that enterprises only need to pay for the cloud services they use rather than unused hardware and capacity.
However, it isn't as simple as picking a cloud platform and knowing for sure that it will fit your business perfectly. Wrong decisions can be costly from a governance and performance perspective. Organisations need to establish, or better still keep the security, management and governance models that match their needs. These models are dependent upon the cross-patchwork of legislation that affects all businesses, the specific sectors they engage with, and the geographical location in which their data resides.
Without the right advice some regulations can be inadvertently compromised. The legislation in Europe is clear on data protection and privacy; data can be placed in any member state if the organisation is doing business in another, right? Unfortunately, it's never that simple. German national law, for example, trumps European legislation. So to avoid prolonged debates with an unsympathetic German Data Auditor, German data is more than likely better off staying in Germany.
This type of confusion over issues like data placement, performance, and security is common. And, it was this confusion that bred a new type of suit, the middle-man. And now as we lose one set of suits we gain another, the ‘cloud broker'.
An aggregator, integrator or customiser, who provides the necessary advice and unbiased opinion on the type of cloud applications and service providers that best match an organisation's needs. Understanding what infrastructure cloud providers have, is becoming a key influencer in this decision. Cloud brokers are hoping that they can coach network managers into a better understanding of virtual environments and how they can make the right choices.
The need for a cloud broker is in some ways an unfortunate expense, as cloud computing is an immediate experience that enables organisations to cut out the extra expenditure incurred in technology change.
An organisation's ability to ‘try before it buys' with cloud services, in theory, meant that there is no longer the need to employ a consultant to decide which service would work for them. When the confusion around cloud is lifted, the future of the cloud broker may morph again, or even become extinct. If the issue of trust still looms large for businesses, it could be the deciding factor that determines their fate.
Getting the right level of confidence to trust the more cost effective and flexible cloud solution still holds many businesses back from adoption. And, this is no surprise given how the many of the concerns around security; governance and downtime continue unresolved. In reality, network managers are fast realising that there are ‘as a service' solutions that tick all the same compliancy boxes as traditional hardware stacks. The golden question is whether organisations splash the cash, broker or bust?