The cloud was supposed to make everything easier, leaving you to concentrate on what you do best and handing off the configuration, updates, and management to the cloud vendor. But as companies make the move to the cloud, many are finding that there are a range of issues involved with running a hybrid environment—and that's where the cloud service broker could come in.
I'll be honest; I'm skeptical about this concept. But when David Linthicum writing for GigaOM Research says there's actually a need here (and he knows a thing or two about cloud computing), it's worth paying attention.
In the GigaOm report, Linthicum defines cloud service brokers in these terms: "CSBs provide automated selection of the right cloud services to provide the best performance, reliability, security, and cost efficiency. Management services include the ability to autoprovision cloud services, analyze the services in terms of performance and availability, and even govern the services using preset policies."
The clouds growing complexity
It's not that the cloud itself is that complex as a concept. In fact, one of the biggest strengths of using cloud software is it tends to reduce complexity for end users and IT alike. On the end user side, ideally the software is easier to use and accessible on just about every platform.
For IT, they don't have to worry about the management component inherent in on-premises software and hardware. When we start dealing with cloud computing resources, IT can spin them up on-demand whenever it needs them and bring them down again when the requirement ends. It's the ultimate in flexibility.
You just go online, order your resources, and boom, you've got them, so where's all this complexity?
It begins to emerge because most companies aren't running a pure cloud environment with just a few vendors. Even a pure cloud environment gets more muddled as you layer on more services and have to figure out how they all work together. When you start combining on-premises systems with cloud services and the governance and security issues that could arise, the level of difficulty begins to increase.
Choose cloud brokers wisely
Into this gap steps the cloud service broker, ready to help you solve all of these issues and smooth your transition to the cloud, but Linthicum suggests that not all brokers are created equal and buyers should tread carefully.
"The rapid growth of CSBs has caused some confusion in the emerging cloud computing space in terms of just what CSB is and does. Organizations should be mindful of CSBs that don’t provide the full range of expected capabilities," he wrote.
The fact that companies feel they need cloud service brokers represents an end of innocence in the cloud business. It bursts the fantasy that you can do it all yourself with a bunch of cloud services and everything will mix and match perfectly.
Cloud service brokers can probably help you navigate this increasingly thorny landscape. But before you go that route, remember your IT pros can probably learn how to deal with at least some of this, and you don't necessarily need to bring in an expert for everything.
When you find yourself drowning, though, it's good to know that there are some services emerging out there that can help rescue you from the sea of growing complexity.
Photo Credit: US Navy on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.