King of Prussia-based A-Frame Technology Services enters Cloud Brokerage business, launching

Tom Paine

IT research firm Forrester has projected that the market for Cloud computing services will increase from about $41 billion in 2011 to $241 billion in 2020. As the acceptance and adoption of Cloud computing accelerates, industry watchers and participants are looking for new models for managing this environment. One of the perceived needs is at what one might say is a meta level; that of helping IT consumers select from among many PaaS (Platform as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings, making sure they meld together well, and giving the customer a single solution for negotiating the best prices and service level agreements, managing all the contracts and license terms, monitoring capacity requirements and making adjustments as needed, and providing or sourcing other resources needed to manage the entire process.

This has become known as the Cloud Brokerage model, which according to a recent report from Forrester will be emerging and standardizing over the next couple of years. Many companies are offering some types of brokerage services as a sideline, and a few are focusing on it more directly. Examples include Appirio's CloudWorks (Salesforce just made a significant investment in Appirio), and SpotCloud, which is mostly geared towards brokering Cloud computing capacity rather than applications. Dell, with its acquisition of Berwyn-based SaaS integrator Boomi and its other Cloud-related services, would appear well positioned to get into the brokerage space; although last year Boomi did release what it called a "cloud-based, real-time integration broker", I have not seen an indication that it has really gotten into the brokerage business yet. But clearly there are no dominant players now and plenty of room for new entrants.

One new entrant is King of Prussia-based A-Frame Technology Services, which has just launched a brokerage service, A-Frame helps large enterprise clients manage the risks of complex IT projects. A-Frame applies an agency construction manager business model to large IT projects, which means it has a duty to act in the best interest of its client and follows a structured methodology to ensure a project's success. (They looked to Philly-based Turner Construction as an example.) A-Frame, which was formed through the merger of specialty consultants Blue Ray, GCi and Panaro Dynamics a few years ago, has about 25 employees; Its principals are Dan Brennan and Mike Kovach.

In a phone interview, Brennen told me that RentTheCloud is targeted primarily towards the type of larger enterprises that are A-Frame's usual clients. RentTheCloud is using a real estate brokerage model for its business model. It has established what it calls the R.E.N.T. methodology, which involves the following steps:

  • (R)eview your current IT ecosystem, including application inventory, support organization, contracts, licenses, and facilities.

  • (E)valuate market opportunities that enable migration from current state to cloud alternative

  • (N)egotiate terms and conditions between buyer and seller.

  • (T)ransition to the cloud.

Brennan says his firm can usually assess a client's needs in one to two weeks. Fees typically amount to one to two months of a client's subscription fees, depending upon complexity, with a one year committment (payment due only when apps are moved to the Cloud). He worked with Blank Rome LLP Partner Daniel Rhynhart (named to the 2010 "40 under 40" by the Philadelphia Business Journal), to draw up a Cloud Brokerage agreement (pdf) that he thinks is better than anything else out there. RentTheCloud's website currently includes more than 100 Cloud vendors, with more on the way.            


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