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GCN : May 2013
THE TERM "cloud broker" currently has two definitions that are different enough to cause confusion in the government IT community, especially in the frenetic land- scape of cloud computing. Originally, the National Institute of Standards and Technology s Cloud Comput- ing Reference Architecture defined a cloud broker as an entity (person or organiza- tion) that provides interme- diary-type services between a cloud consumer and multiple cloud providers. For the Defense Department, the DOD CIO specified that the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) would fulfill the role of Enterprise Cloud Service Broker (ECSB). This is the traditional definition of a broker, akin to a stock broker or commod- ity broker, where an inter- mediary assists a customer navigate through a complex environment of many op- tions. A better name for this may be "cloud agent." A second definition of cloud broker pertains to a new type of software that sits on top of cloud provid- ers to abstract, simplify and map various cloud o erings to your environment. Cloud broker software assists or- ganizations in creating solu- tions in the cloud, migrating solutions to the cloud and moving solutions between clouds. Recently the Health and Human Services Depart- ment sent out a request for information entitled, "Cloud Broker Vendor Questionnaire for Cloud Capabilities" that did an excellent job of laying out a set of detailed require- ments for cloud broker software. It is interesting to note that the RFI refers to the traditional, entity-based defi- nition of cloud broker ser- vices as "business brokerage capabilities." The rest of the RFI is 19 pages of questions that lay out an impressive requirements list by asking vendors if they support vari- ous features, use cases and criteria (See box). There are a number of commercial vendors o er- ing cloud broker software and services. One of the largest vendors in this space is NASDAQ which o ers its FinQloud as an interme- diation layer on top of the Amazon Web Services cloud for the financial sector. One of the chief selling points for FinQloud to the Finan- cial sector is that NASDAQ understands their regula- tions and requirements and has augmented the Amazon Cloud platform with the appropriate security mecha- nisms required by their industry. InCadence s solution, named Axon, focuses on in- termediation enhancements to migration to move the conversation from migrat- ing servers to the cloud to migrating entire solutions to the cloud. Finally, there is an open source project called Com- patibleOne that is working on a standards-based, cross- cloud provisioning engine. While their definitions may di er, it is clear that both cloud brokerage services and cloud broker software are powerful emerging trends that will accelerate enterprise adoption and the migration of applications to the cloud. • --- Michael C. Daconta (md- firstname.lastname@example.org) is vice president of Advanced Technology at InCadence Strategic Solutions and the former Metadata Program Manager for the Depart- ment of Homeland Security. He will be presenting on InCadence s Axon solution at the Biometrics & Big Data Symposium in June. THE TWO CLOUD BROKERS: AN EMERGING FORCE FOR ENTERPRISE MIGRATIONS REALITY CHECK BY MICHAEL DACONTA 6 KEY REQUIREMENTS FOR CLOUD BROKER SOFTWARE • An editable service catalog to enable discovery of services and solutions migrated to the cloud or available as software-as-a- service (SAAS) applications. • A provisioning engine that can create server images across one or more cloud providers, perform load analysis and capac- ity planning, scale to many users and offer rule-based elasticity. The engine should even be able to handle cross-cloud provi- sioning and support interoperability and data portability. Finally, the engine should provide security, privacy and COOP services. • Identity management services that can manager users and even pass credentials to a particular cloud provider. • Billing and pricing services so that con- sumers only pay for what they need and expenditures are accurately tracked across cloud providers. • Intermediation enhancements to migra- tion, provisioning (cloud and cross-cloud), identity management and reporting. • The Cloud Broker Software itself should be a cloud application that is distributed, scal- able and supports integration. 16 GCN MAY 2013 • GCN.COM