Cloud brokering: Building a cloud of clouds

Updated: April 22, 2011

Enter cloud brokering

C
loud brokering is the capability that addresses this eggs-in-one-basket problem. A cloud broker provides cloud service intermediation, aggregation, and arbitrage across a set of cloud providers. The need for such cloud brokers, of course, is not lost on the community of cloud startups. Today, if there's even a hint of a niche you'll find several entrepreneurs jumping on it, and the nascent cloud broker market is no different. However, there is a twist to the current state of the cloud broker market: as far as I can tell, all the players in this space today include cloud brokering as an extension of their existing business model, rather than a pure play model in its own right.

In fact, most of the vendors offering cloud brokering are in the cloud management space. RightScale and Kaavo, for example, provide template-based cloud deployment. Build the template, and the tool will deploy your fully configured cloud instance in any of a number of cloud environments by following the template. CloudSwitch takes the template idea down a few notches to layer two of the OSI stack, which means your cloud instances will be identical down to the IP addresses and even the MAC addresses, independent of the cloud environment. A fourth player worth mentioning is enStratus, who touts cloud independence as part of cloud governance.

All the players in this space today include cloud brokering as an extension of their existing business model, rather than a pure play model in its own right.



There is another angle on the cloud brokering marketplace, however: as an extension of the cloud storage/sync market. This niche is already quite crowded, with players like Dropbox, Jungle Disk, Box.net, Wuala, and several more. A closely related market niche is the cloud backup market, featuring vendors like Mozy, Backblaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan, and Livedrive, to name a few. It's not clear, however, if any of these vendors support cloud brokering. Instead, they all rely upon a single underlying cloud environment for each of their offerings. The inherent fault tolerance of each vendor's chosen cloud infrastructure may be sufficient for many users, especially in the consumer and small business segments, but enterprises may require a higher degree of resilience.

One vendor, however, has apparently carved out a niche for themselves: Oxygen cloud. Oxygen cloud focuses on cloud-based sync and shared storage, but they have also taken the extra step to build cloud brokering into their offering. As a result, customers who want the benefits of sync and storage in the cloud without having to rely on a particular cloud provider have few if any options other than Oxygen cloud.

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