Cloud Broker: Why I Don't Love the Term

Cloud Broker: Why I Don't Love the Term

Plenty of VARs and MSPs are trying to become Cloud Brokers. And during last week's Ingram Micro Cloud Summit, multiple keynote speakers mentioned the Cloud Broker or Cloud Computing Broker term. But that doesn't mean I have to like the term.

On the one hand, it's great to hear about VARs and MSPs generating recurring cloud revenues. But the Cloud Broker term also comes with its share of baggage. Whether it's real estate or the stock market, the word "broker" sometimes has a negative connotation.

Ultimately, brokers are trying to sell you something. And that's not always a good thing.

Father Knows Best

I write that with all due respect. My dad has been a real estate broker for more than 40 years. He was a trusted advisor in the real estate market long before the trusted advisor term went mainstream in the IT channel. When it comes to real estate, my dad discloses whom he represents. And in most cases, he's a broker representing the seller -- rather than the buyer.

My dad is an ethical and hard-working guy. But sometimes I think the Real Estate Broker moniker holds him back, because as a whole the real estate broker industry sometimes suffers from unethical salespeople and some unethical peer brokers.

What's the Motivation?

Now let's apply that example to the cloud market. Will cloud brokers represent...

  • End-customers?

  • Back-end cloud service providers?

  • Cloud aggregators?

The answer will surely vary. Some CIOs began seeking out cloud brokers in 2010. And some VARs and MSPs -- such as LTech -- are effectively communicating the value of Cloud Broker capabilities  to end-customers.

Other MSPs are looking to become Cloud Aggregators. But overall, I think that's a term best left to distributors that aggregate dozens of cloud options for VARs and MSPs to potentially leverage.

So where does that leave us? Overall I think Cisco Systems has most clearly defined how VARs and MSPs will play in the cloud. During Cisco Summit 2011, the company announced the Cisco Cloud Partner Program. It seeks to serve three types of channel audiences:

  1. Cloud Builders: Here, partners will leverage their management and services competencies, for cloud management applications and cloud professional service practices.

  2. Cloud Providers: In order to become a Cisco-oriented cloud provider, partners will need to meet certain audit requirements. Partners will earn the right to deliver Cisco Powered Cloud Services. It’s very similar to Cisco’s managed services partner program.

  3. Cloud Services Resellers: Here, channel partners will be able to OEM and resell cloud services from peer Cisco partners. Again, this is very similar to the Cisco managed services partner program.

Those are pretty simple definitions. But I think they're on the mark.

Of course, I'm likely splitting hairs. The terms Cloud Computing Broker and Cloud Broker seem to be going mainstream. Too late for TalkinCloud to fight or dismiss the terms. But that doesn't mean I have to love either term. Long live Cloud Builders, Cloud Providers and Cloud Services Resellers.

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