|By Jason Bloomberg||
|February 6, 2013 09:23 AM EST||
Emerging markets don’t generally follow smooth, predictable paths. Rather, they struggle and jerk unexpectedly, much like an eaglet escaping from its shell. Vendors, analysts, and pundits may seek to define such markets, but typically fall short. After all, vendors don’t establish markets. Customers do.
Today, cloud computing is still in its birth throes. Yes, many organizations are now achieving value in the cloud, but many more still struggle to understand its true value proposition as cloud service providers (CSPs) and vendors mature their offerings in the space. One problem: cloud computing is not a single market. It is in fact many interrelated markets, as its core service models, infrastructure-, platform-, and software as a service (SaaS), fragment as though they were so many pieces of eggshell.
To bring order to this chaos, a new sub-market of the broader cloud-computing market has emerged: the cloud service broker (CSB). Envision some kind of cloud middleman, helping to cut through the plethora of cloud options and services by offering…well, just what a CSB offers isn’t quite clear. And that’s the problem with the whole notion of a CSB. The market has yet to fully define it.
Not that there aren’t plenty of perspectives on just what a CSB should actually do, mind you. If anything, there are too many opinions, prompting arguments among bloggers and confusion among customers.
Gartner claims CSBs should offer aggregation, integration, and customization, while Forrester delineates simple cloud brokers, full infrastructure brokers, and SaaS brokers – at least initially. And then there’s the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), who calls for CSBs to provide aggregation, intermediation, and arbitrage, specifically for brokers that would serve the US federal government.
But poke around the blogosphere, and many other CSB features come to light. Management is a huge requirement -- or two requirements, actually, as some organizations have needs that focus on business management, while others focus more on the technical aspects of management.
And what about assessments? Shouldn’t your broker assess CSPs who wish to join the CSB, providing some kind of thumbs-up before providers can participate? Then there are the questions about the nature and configuration of the CSB itself. Is it internal to the organization, or a third party much like a real-estate broker might be? And finally, is the broker essentially a software solution, or is it an organization or team in its own right, where software plays a support role to what are essentially a set of brokering business processes?
There’s only one way to cut through this confusion: talk to an organization who not only figured out what they wanted from a CSB, but also built one themselves. The organization in question: the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an agency of the United States Department of Energy (DOE).
Management and security
According to its Web site, NNSA is responsible for the management and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, naval reactor programs, and related activities. Under the auspices of Deputy Chief Technology Officer Anil Karmel, NNSA and the Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) implemented a CSB they call YOURcloud, in collaboration with partners in the contractor community.
According to Karmel, YOURcloud both leverages and supports the DOE’s Information on Demand (IoD) strategy. It provides a self-service portal for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings across multiple CSPs, including on-premise, community, and public cloud services like Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). YOURcloud balances a diversity of choices among IaaS providers for various DOE programs while allowing those programs to maintain full autonomy of their cloud workloads.
YOURcloud users include DOE users, laboratory and plant users, other government agency users, support contractors, and members of the public. DOE business use cases for the CSB include rapid deployment of servers to scientists, security controls based on data sensitivity, calculating energy savings, disaster recovery, and capital expenditure reduction. And of course, security is a paramount concern.
Karmel describes YOURcloud as a “Cloud of Clouds.” In other words, it’s a secure hybrid CSB that incorporates both on-premise and public cloud offerings. This approach gives them a unified management control plane for IaaS and IoD, and in fact, this technical management capability is central to the role of the CSB at NNSA.
The central problem that led NNSA to build YOURcloud was their desire to deploy cloud services rapidly. Before the debut of the broker, cloud deployments had taken 70 days or more, according to Karmel.
NNSA also required a comprehensive security plan that was more sophisticated than the security capabilities other CSBs, both in production as well as on the drawing board, might offer. To this end, YOURcloud delivers software-defined security covering network, storage, and compute resources. It provides adaptive security that covers both NNSA’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) as well as service enclaves.
In fact, the notion of service enclaves is central to how YOURcloud deals with security. It’s possible to partition enclaves so that an organization can use one cloud, while protecting sensitive data from users who lack the credentials to access the information in that cloud.
In essence, enclaves provide a container for both workloads and configurations. After a program creates an enclave, it establishes role-based access control (RBAC) by assigning permissions to the organization’s technical staff. In the future, YOURcloud will also provide a shared services enclave that will provide the foundation for enterprise “app store” functionality for the DOE broadly and NNSA in particular.
Organization-centric user registration is also a critical function of the CSB. NNSA requires that YOURcloud identify each participating organizations’ top-level contacts in part to prevent unnecessary organization overlap. Users include technical contacts who select providers, create enclaves, grant permissions, and manage configurations. In particular, security contacts provide organizational firewall control, while billing contacts handle billing statement controls.
Cost reduction is one of the most trumpeted benefits of cloud computing, but the government procurement context complicates the ability of departments to leverage the cloud’s utility model. It’s essential, therefore, for YOURcloud to define the cost structure for IaaS, including the duration of the infrastructure services as well as the mechanism for payment.
Simple pay-as-you-go pricing, however, won’t work for the DOE. The risk with such pricing, of course, is the possibility of an unexpectedly large bill. Such unpredictability is inconsistent with normal government procurement processes. Instead, agencies require full allocation, meaning a fixed price for a maximum level of consumption of cloud services. YOURcloud facilitates this full allocation pricing model, and also enables programs to turn off cloud services and hold them for future use. In effect, delivery of the CSB enables the DOE to save money while simultaneously providing an agnostic platform for innovation.
Since NNSA is a government agency, it’s no surprise that YOURcloud follows NIST’s definition of a CSB more closely than Gartner’s or Forrester’s. In fact, YOURcloud exhibits all three of NIST’s CSB capabilities: aggregation, intermediation, and arbitrage. Not only does YOURcloud aggregate pre-approved CSPs, it provides both business intermediation as well technical intermediation.
The current version of YOURcloud also has limited arbitrage capabilities in the form of a dynamic cost calculator, as well as chargeback and showback functionality (showback refers to providing management with an analysis of the IT costs due to each department, without actually charging those costs back to the departments).
Perhaps the most important asset YOURcloud brings to the table for DOE is how well it supports program autonomy. YOURcloud allows programs within the DOE to maintain full control over their workloads within the context of a common security baseline. Karmel’s cloud-of-clouds approach enables YOURcloud to broker any organization, through any device, to any service. This respect for program autonomy addresses the “not invented here” problem: program managers can leverage the capabilities of YOURcloud without feeling like the broker is pushing them to select services or follow policies that are not in line with their requirements.
It’s not clear how well YOURcloud will define the characteristics of CSBs across the entire cloud-computing market, but NNSA’s efforts have not gone without notice within the federal government. CSBs are a hot topic across both civilian and military agencies, with the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) both fleshing out their respective CSB strategies.
That being said, there is no better way to prove a model than by implementing a working, successful example. By implementing a CSB that supports secure, hybrid Cloud environments, NNSA and the DOE have set the bar for the next generation of Cloud Service Brokers.
You may also be interested in:
- AT&T cloud services built on VMware vCloud Datacenter meet evolving business demands for advanced IaaS
- Where cloud computing takes us: Hybrid services delivery of essential information across all types of applications
- Convercent's cloud app aims to help employees implement, measure, and rate corporate values and culture
- Thomas Duryea's journey to the cloud: Part one
- Market confidence in cloud soars, especially among service providers, says North Bridge survey
“We help people build clusters, in the classical sense of the cluster. We help people put a full stack on top of every single one of those machines. We do the full bare metal install," explained Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 19, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,209
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
Dec. 19, 2014 11:30 AM EST Reads: 2,298
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 19, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,857
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, p...
Dec. 19, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 2,165
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
Dec. 18, 2014 09:45 PM EST Reads: 1,011
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 18, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,289
“We are a managed services company. We have taken the key aspects of the cloud and the purposed data center and merged the two together and launched the Purposed Cloud about 18–24 months ago," explained Chetan Patwardhan, CEO of Stratogent, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 18, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,219
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session a...
Dec. 17, 2014 11:15 PM EST Reads: 1,323
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in San...
Dec. 17, 2014 11:00 PM EST Reads: 1,379
As enterprises engage with Big Data technologies to develop applications needed to meet operational demands, new computation fabrics are continually being introduced. To leverage these new innovations, organizations are sacrificing market opportunities to gain expertise in learning new systems. In his session at Big Data Expo, Supreet Oberoi, Vice President of Field Engineering at Concurrent, Inc., discussed how to leverage existing infrastructure and investments and future-proof them against e...
Dec. 17, 2014 10:00 PM EST Reads: 1,412
"Desktop as a Service is emerging as a very big trend. One of the big influencers of this – for Esri – is that we have a large user base that uses virtualization and they are looking at Desktop as a Service right now," explained John Meza, Product Engineer at Esri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,520
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the ...
Dec. 17, 2014 06:30 PM EST Reads: 1,263
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core...
Dec. 16, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,317
SYS-CON Events announced today that Creative Business Solutions will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Creative Business Solutions is the top stocking authorized HP Renew Distributor in the U.S. Based out of Long Island, NY, Creative Business Solutions offers a one-stop shop for a diverse range of products including Proliant, Blade and Industry Standard Servers, Networking, Server Options and...
Dec. 16, 2014 09:30 PM EST Reads: 1,067
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. But what about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today's databases are anything but agile - they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application an...
Dec. 16, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,268
An effective way of thinking in Big Data is composed of a methodical framework for dealing with the predicted shortage of 50-60% of the qualified Big Data resources in the U.S. This holistic model comprises the scientific and engineering steps that are involved in accelerating Big Data solutions: problem, diagnosis, facts, analysis, hypothesis, solution, prototype and implementation. In his session at Big Data Expo®, Tony Shan focused on the concept, importance, and considerations for each of t...
Dec. 16, 2014 05:00 PM EST Reads: 1,239
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Dec. 15, 2014 10:30 AM EST Reads: 6,880
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial C...
Dec. 15, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,637
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal S...
Dec. 15, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,958