Back in the “old days” of federal IT, it was a lot easier to classify the companies supporting the government’s IT mission. There were defense contractors, management consultancies and systems integrators. The border areas were sometimes blurry, but these companies mainly did different things for agencies.

Fast forward to today, and the landscape is far more fluid. The move to the cloud has transformed the way the federal government delivers IT services. And in the process, it has also transformed the contracting community.

FCW recently published a piece by Colby Hochmuth looking at the growing number of organizations looking to broker cloud services. It makes sense in a way that today’s cloud broker could be considered yesterday’s SI.

Since cloud computing to a large degree replaces on-premises equipment with remote, virtualized assets, there is less hardware to be concerned about. So integration becomes more a challenge of integrating best-of-breed solutions, rather than hands-on network design and construction.

The government isn’t leaving cloud brokerage to private companies. The National Technology Information Center (NTIC) inside the USDA is a FedRAMP approved provider of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) services. The NTIC is aggressively marketing its services to other federal agencies, as detailed in this article from The Intersection.

On the DoD front, there is an attempt to clarify the cloud brokerage role by appointing the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) as in effect the broker in charge of all cloud service providers (CSPs). But that doesn’t mean the process will always go smoothly – a protest was filed to an upcoming DISA $427 million cloud storage contract that was first announced in September 2013.

If you believe in the adage that choice is good, then the plethora of cloud brokers is a positive thing for agencies. Their growth is a testament to the power of cloud computing, both technologically and as a market.

One thing that never changes is the fact that agencies need expert advice they can trust – from VARs, brokers or providers – when making cloud buying and deployment decisions.