We know all about these loose ecosystems of Barney-loving, hand-holding, kumbaya-singing companies who promise a full solution to help you take advantage of the next overwhelming wave of technology...for a fee.
In the past, vendor ecosystem announcements indicate a vague intention on the part of the vendors to do something together someday - providing they can all find a customer to pay for it.
With the cloud, however, ecosystems are different. They are easier to create, both from a business and technical point of view. They are also much more transparent, as the results of their efforts are available for the whole world to see.
WaveMaker, RightScale, IBM and Amazon just announced their own cloud ecosystem. This ecosystem is being marketed as a cloud quick start program, which aims to make cloud computing ridiculously easy and give companies a one-stop solution for migrating existing Java applications to SaaS and cloud computing.
Not only are all of the cloud quick start products fully integrated and running today in the Amazon cloud, but the integration is available for anyone to use who has an Amazon account. Even better, the first company to complete the 2 day cloud quick start program, KANA, was so impressed with the results that they plan on going live with their first cloud deployment before the end of the year.
What makes the cloud unique is not the individual bits of software running in some dark data center, but that for the first time it is easy to stand up a number of complex pieces of software, knit them all together and make the resulting integrated solution available to anyone who wants to use them.
Take for example the elements of the cloud quickstart program, which integrates products from four enterprise software companies. Just imagine trying to pull off this kind of integration without the cloud.
First of all, you would have to get software licenses from each vendor, then find a place to install them all and then figure out how to integrate them. These tasks alone would take weeks to months.
Now compare that with the same scenario in the cloud. WaveMaker, RightScale and Amazon already have software running on Amazon EC2 and available for anyone to use. Once the companies have done the basic integration work, it is easy to produce custom AMIs that provide a pre-integrated solution to the rest of the world.
The cloud quickstart program for cloud application development from WaveMaker, RightScale, IBM and Amazon is not the only example of this kind of ecosystem. An equally impressive ecosystem for cloud business intelligence launched a little over a month ago featuring RightScale, Jaspersoft, Talend and Vertica.
Cloud hosting providers like Amazon provide a sort of global workbench on which software vendors can integrate quickly and without even having explicit business relationships. This may in the end prove to be the real killer app for cloud computing - the ability to adopt entire software ecosystems with the click of a button.