John Hampton| Cloudtweaks
When I say “Cloud Broker”, don’t confuse it with the official definition which is – an agent who assists cloud consumers choose or migrate to single or multiple cloud platforms. There’s a new set of software which sits on top of the Cloud stack and adds value by providing new solutions on the Cloud, migrating enterprise systems along with the data or migrating between different cloud services.
Much like the stock brokers, cloud broker software is acting as an enabler and a catalyst in Cloud adoption. HHS (Health and Human Services Department) recently floated a RFI to determine detailed requirements for Cloud broker software. In this article I will discuss some of the key requirements laid out in the document.
1) Cross cloud provisioning engine
This is the key component. In fact, if you just have this and ignore every other aspect, you’ll have cloud broker software ready to take on serious migrations. This engine should be able to provision server instances across single or multiple cloud platforms – which is ideal for enterprises adopting hybrid-cloud strategy, provides capacity planning and load analysis and most importantly, support data portability and ideally application interoperability. Sounds a lot like software layer running atop PaaS cloud. The engine should also cover key security and privacy aspects.
2) Application Discovery
Should enable discovery of various SaaS applications across different cloud offerings. There has to be a mechanism to control and prioritize application discovery based on the needs of the enterprise.
3) Identity Management
An identity and credential management component which controls access to various cloud services for the consumer. It may ideally provide abstraction to the native identity and access control and management services of the individual cloud providers.
This is critical to cloud success. Coupled with provisioning engine, the cloud consumer will be able to find the best fit for their enterprise applications and data being served out of the cloud. Cloud broker software should provide a billing system which accurately logs expenditures based on actual usage data across the complete cloud portfolio of an enterprise.
Cloud broker software itself should be offered as a cloud application which can be deployed with any cloud provider. Moreover, it should be extensible so the enterprise can add its own custom components to it.
With the proliferation of cloud providers in all shapes and sizes (PaaS, IaaS and SaaS etc), it’s now crucial to have a standards based platform which eases the process of migration and management of an enterprise’s cloud portfolio. There are several vendors offering cloud broker software for specific verticals. There’s also an Open Source project, CompatibleOne, which aims at building a standards based, cross-cloud provisioning engine.