The Role of Cloud Brokers in the Cloud

As cloud computing grows and people (and companies) start using multiple cloud based accounts, there is a growing need to streamline their accounts or port their data over from one cloud to another. Cloud brokers can help with this task, but do they provide a definitive answer to this dilemma?

These days, many people have more than one cloud based accounts and may want to link up their data from the various cloud based services that they have. Or, perhaps they might want to transfer their applications and virtual services over from one cloud service provider to another. In addition, they may wish to discontinue their service with one cloud vendor in favour of another. Essentially, they want an account that is portable that allows them to easily move between cloud vendors. However, this can present a variety of problems because different cloud vendors may have different standards, making it difficult to make the switch smoothly.

Cloud brokers have stepped into this breach to offer services to take resources from different clouds and making them available so that end users can access them as if they were one; and not numerous clouds. These cloud brokers act as a technological middlemen between cloud based services. The cloud broker facilitates a dialogue between several clouds that the end user interacts with. However, it is the cloud broker and not the end user who will act on their behalf as a go between; and the advantage to the end user is that they will not have to interact with multiple cloud vendors. This is certainly a beneficial service.

Even though cloud brokers offer a necessary service, it is not a foolproof solution to the question of portability because it does not address some fundamental or underlying problems in the cloud vendor industry. What is needed is a common standard between cloud based companies to make it easier for consumers to port their data and services over from one company to another. Currently, many organisations (like the Cloud Security Alliance and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) are being formed (some already operating) to examine how this can be done and how common industry standards can be developed among all cloud based companies. But, will the industry embrace these standards?

In the meantime, cloud brokers are a reasonable solution providers, but ultimately, developing standards for all cloud vendors that make it easy for users to transfer their services, and data from one vendor to another is the best solution. Until that time, cloud brokers provide a reasonable interim solutions.

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