This article was originally published in the Australian Business Review on 28th October 2015 by Supratim Adhikari.

“A Canberra-based start-up determined to simplify the ‘Cloud’ for local businesses is set to officially get off the ground today and for Buttonwood’s founder and managing director Allan King when it comes to cloud computing the conversation has moved well beyond adoption.

Instead the focus is turning to consumption, with enterprises seeking solutions that best meet their needs and a clearer picture on what they are paying for.

According to Mr King, the shift is driven by an urge to better exploit the disruptive potential of a trend that holds enormous promise but also plenty of complications when it comes to evaluating, consuming and managing services.

“Cloud is easy to buy but it’s very difficult to manage,” he said.

Whether it’s Software as a Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), according to King, successfully navigating the hybrid cloud environment comes down to flexibility, where shifting loads from the public cloud to on-premise infrastructure becomes a simple proposition.

Buttonwood’s solution aims to deliver that flexibility but in a unified format that stresses simplicity and ease of use.

“We saw three big pain points for enterprises on the cloud — operational consistency, the choice of services and the disaggregation of data,” he said.

“Gaining real-time visibility of cloud services usage is difficult and bill shock is very real for many businesses.”

The Buttonwood Cloud Exchange, inspired by the Buttonwood agreement of 1792 that saw the inception of the New York Stock Exchange, is designed to serve as a comprehensive platform that allows a business to manage and secure multiple cloud applications as well as model and deploy multi-cloud workloads.

“Our vision is to become a management broker that gives a business the chance to bring service into an environment that gives them the choice, governance and control to get the most of the disruptive potential of the cloud,” Mr King said.

“Where we are different from other brokers in the market is that we have taken a view of the cloud through the lens of how an enterprise sees it.”

“We built an integration platform to put cloud services into a single framework to simplify consumption and that allowed us to look at every aspect of a rich ecosystem (the maturity of the API layer, the data integration layer, the user management layer) and what’s the best option for a business,” he said.

The exchange will initially provide access to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure on the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) front. Telstra cloud services and Dimension Data are set to come into play in the near-future.

On the SaaS front, the exchange starts off with Office 365, and Google for Work and the plan is to have the top 25 applications by the first quarter of 2016,

“There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty and doubt about what the cloud looks like and we have a duty of care to provide both access and transparency,” Mr King said.

“Our success at Buttonwood will be governed by how much trust we can build in our community and trust is only born through transparency and choice.”

“So we are trying to solve vendor-lock not just in the industry but with ourselves, we can’t advocate one and then tie you to another,” he added.”