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The Next Twitter Will Be a Cloud Services Broker

Stocks in this article: RAX RHT VMW FB CMCSA LNKD TWTR IBM HPQ AMZN

Gartner Group has been talking up the idea for three years, seeing a $100 billion global market as early as next year, and defining that market broadly.

Gartner sees a CSB market with its own "Golden Quadrant" of leaders and laggards, its own hype cycle, and with a host of opportunities within organizations, creating a buy side equivalent to the brokerages' sell side.

I think the Gartner analyst to know here is Daryl Plummer, a former data center manager now based in Woodstock, Ga., an Atlanta suburb. His October 2010 piece, Cloud Services Brokerage is Built on Markets Near $1 Trillion in Spend, can be seen as the starter's pistol of the new game.

These companies have names like Jamcracker, ComputeNext, Appirio, Gravitant, and Cloud Sherpas. Some partner with specific clouds. Others see themselves as marketplaces. Some are consultants. Still others see themselves as offering software that lets customers arbitrage cloud from a variety of companies.

In addition, TalkinCloud.com notes, many cloud vendors offer their own cloud brokerage services and software, including Amazon's AWS Marketplace, Comcast's (CMCSA) Upware, and Rackspace's Cloud Tools Marketplace.

What's clear is they're all growing like topsy. MarketsandMarkets, which defines the market conservatively, sees it growing from $1.57 billion this year to $10.5 billion in 2018, a compound annual growth rate of 46%

What happens next is an often-told story featuring globalization, consolidation and the tapping of public markets to raise capital. You can also expect big players like IBM and HP, which missed the start of this game, to muscle their way in, partly through their own efforts, partly through acquisitions, in order to keep their customers.

This game is already afoot. It's just a matter of time before these companies start calling Wall Street and Wall Street starts calling back. It won't be as exciting as the Twitter IPO because these are business-to-business companies. But it could prove even more profitable.

At the time of publication the author owned 117 shares of IBM.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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