Joe McKendrick a contributing writer for Forbes.com recently posted a thought provoking article on Vendor Lock-in with cloud computing services.
The general adoption of cloud computing models in some verticals is maturing quite rapidly. SalesForce.com is an obvious leader and has provided a competitive advantage for many organizations. There are many other markets that are still nascent in terms of even putting the idea of cloud computing on the IT radar. The article touches on an important point, data migration, and one that protagonists will likely add to the existing list of reasons not to fly to the cloud (eg. Security, Compliance, 5Nines). I believe this could create a unique opportunity for a new segment of consultant, value-added reseller or ‘Cloud Broker’. CIO Magazine recently published an article on the subject and used Gartner as a source for defining a Cloud Broker as “a type of Cloud service provider that plays an intermediary role in Cloud computing”
While I agree that the market for brokers is at a very early stage and the roles they could play need clarity I disagree that it will take 5 years for widespread adoption of brokers. An excellent example of success in this area is Cloud Sherpas. They focused on GoogleApps and by providing consultation and customization of the platform for specific use cases they add value for customers. Not that different from an Systems Integrator just focused on cloud services instead of on premise hardware and software. I also believe that the ability for a broker to provide service consolidation to simplify the touch points for an organization is a key focus area.
Lastly I am thinking of the role a broker could play by giving giving customers competitive pricing based on volume purchasing. Basically the same way Costco made the big box retail model work. The broker approaches cloud service providers and negotiates more favorable rates based on the consolidation of consumers around a specific brand. Not all cloud providers will be great at marketing or understand how their solution can be used in a specific vertical. This is an area where brokers can specialize, consolidate markets and act as a customer advocate for small and medium size businesses in a specific vertical. If I am just one chiropractor I won’t have the same buying power as 1,000 or even 10,000 chiropractors might have if consolidated under a single cloud brokerage house.
What is your take do the brokers have a future?