Cloud computing definitionWhen it comes to cloud computing, the question enterprises now ask is, “Which cloud is best?” More than 80 percent of organizations are running workloads in the cloud, and the IT service industry has joined the fray with a variety of different cloud services and new buzzwords to represent them. What do they mean, and is there a difference between them? Let’s review:

Cloud broker: A cloud broker is someone who acts as a kind of middleman between an organization interested in buying cloud services and the sellers of that service. Sometimes a cloud broker doesn’t participate in the negotiation process but just researches different vendors for the customer and offers advice on how to best use the cloud to support their business goals. Their role is similar to a consultant’s.

Cloud aggregator: A cloud aggregator is similar to a cloud broker, but not quite the same. Aggregators go one step further to negotiate and distribute cloud services from multiple vendors for their clients to try to be as cost effective as possible. Sometimes a cloud aggregator will offer their own services in addition to other cloud providers as part of their efforts. No matter what, this kind of integration is almost always more cost effective than purchasing each service separately.

Cloud enabler: A cloud enabler is the one who makes the cloud possible (ie, literally enables it to work). They’re the companies that produce hardware, software storage, networking, etc. that creates the cloud environment. For example, Dell and IBM sell hardware used to create the cloud, which is then purchased by cloud service providers such as Amazon or Google and repackaged as part of their services.

Cloud provider: Cloud providers are companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google or Online Tech, who purchase the equipment needed to create the cloud, then architect it and sell it to the user for a fee. This may also include your own organization, if you choose to host yours in house. Depending on the type of cloud provider (public or private), you may or may not receive help deploying and managing your cloud. Managed private cloud providers tend to help their clients with resource management and deployments, whereas with public cloud providers, it is entirely up to the organization how they manage their cloud.

As you can see, there are several types of cloud services and people who handle them. If your business is looking to purchase a specific cloud and know about the different vendors, then you’re simply shopping for cloud providers. But if you’re not sure how you want to take your business to the cloud, you might need some help, and hire a cloud broker. Or perhaps you know you want to go to the cloud but don’t have the time or expertise to start negotiating with vendors and deciding which workloads are going where; in which case, a cloud aggregator is for you. When it comes to hybrid cloud computing, there’s no single “right” answer. This has proven to be both a blessing and a curse to organizations trying to figure out their cloud strategy and how to achieve it.