The Value of an Ecosystem in Today’s Complex Cloud Environment

As the cloud landscape grows and sprawls, it’s becoming increasingly complex for users to keep up with all the moving parts, processes, and new developments.

The cloud ‘ecosystem’, as it’s called, refers to all these multiple building blocks that make up a cloud operating model, encompassing people, processes, and technology, from vendors to service providers and end users. And, just like a natural ecosystem, the cloud ecosystem is constantly evolving.

The latest trend in this evolutionary process will hopefully make the environment less complex for end users, says Andrew Cruise, Managing Director of Routed, a local cloud platform provider and VMware specialist. “Historically, vendors approached the market in a siloed fashion. As complexity has increased, and options have become much more varied for partners and end users, vendors have started integrating their products more. It’s not a new trend or approach, but it is maturing quite rapidly at the moment.”

In short, vendors are learning to play nicely together, because the market is forcing them to. “Previously, vendors had a lot more power. Now, there’s more choice, and vendors are having to up their game. Microsoft is a good example of this. Historically, they wouldn’t go anywhere near an operating system that wasn’t Microsoft Windows, but they’ve now developed a version of Microsoft SQL Server for Linux. And this is happening right across the market, with big and small vendors,” says Cruise.

“Other similar examples include VMware, traditionally an on-premises hypervisor software, branching out into a more multi-cloud approach. Or Veeam, traditionally on-premises backup software, branching out into cloud-based backup and utilising the cloud. Everyone is casting the net a bit wider.”

But, as in any ecosystem, some organisms evolve more slowly than others. Cruise says customers should think carefully about how whatever piece of hardware or software is being sold to them fits into the bigger picture. “While vendors should be working together, and most are, customers should be wary of resellers who aren’t telling this ecosystem story. It could mean getting stuck in a silo, restricted by, or locked in with one vendor, if they don’t consider how that vendor’s products fit into the cloud ecosystem. Before buying into anything, it’s important to consider how the solutions you choose integrate with others and fit into the bigger picture, and to feel confident that your vendors are talking to each other.”

The added bonus is that customers benefit from more skill sharing and a higher level of expertise in this evolving environment. “In South Africa, as in many other countries, we’re seeing a skills drain – experts in the field are moving to international territories or companies because they can offer more competitive packages. But, in this case, it means that customers and partners are in good hands when looking to resellers, service providers and vendors for support. Major vendors are snapping up the best people and centralising the expertise – but this can be beneficial for all the stakeholders in the ecosystem. Whether the provider is VMware, Veeam, or Routed, customers can feel confident that these vendors are talking to each other, and to their partners and providers.”