By Nitin Jain and Mark Koenig
This week, Appirio introduced the next generation of our interactive Cloud Ecosystem Map. This post is intended to explain how to use the map, as well as how we used Force.com to integrate the Ecosystem Map into our computing environment. For more information on why we felt it was time for an update to the map, please visit our CIO Blog here.
We’ve retained the by-now-familiar three-by-three sorting of the ecosystem, as we have heard from our customers and readers that it is an easily accessible mechanism for understanding the dimensions of the cloud. At the same time, we’ve also made more explicit groupings of those vendors who we consider to be “major players,” as well as other players who are contributing to the richness of the cloud ecosystem.
- The primary sort is by type of solution. The public cloud group is reserved for solutions that are multi-tenant, single instance. The next group is reserved for vendor hosted solutions that are either single-tenant or multi-instance – a different architecture than what’s behind the public cloud. The third and final grouping is reserved for what’s being called the “private cloud”- any technology that brings some of the benefits of the private cloud into your on-premise data center.
- The secondary sorting is by layer of the technology stack, in keeping with the emerging consensus around the 3 major layers of the cloud: applications (SaaS), application platforms (PaaS), and infrastructure (IaaS).
- The tertiary sort separates out those vendors with multiple offerings in a section of the cloud, as compared with those who are specializing in a particular category within a particular layer.
How To Use the Map
Landing Page: When you start at the front page, you will see an overview of the cloud ecosystem. It will provide a glimpse of one of the segments of the cloud ecosystem map, A cloud segment is defined as combination of the cloud type and service layer. For example, the Public Cloud – Applications segment defines applications (SaaS) in the public cloud.
Interactive Map: Click on the cloud ecosystem preview image on the landing page to drill down to interactive cloud ecosystem map.
- You will start with the Public Cloud – Applications – Major players tab. This tab contains the vendors we believe have the greatest influence on the public cloud, based primarily on number of offerings and market penetration. The Other Players tab contains either the smaller or the more point-solution focused providers. That’s a guideline, not a rule — appearance in the other players tab does not necessarily denote lack of power or size!
- You can jump directly to any cloud segment by clicking on the top row of tabs (cloud types) or second row of tabs to navigate across different service categories like Applications, Platforms and Infrastructure. Should you wish to go,to the main page, simply click the back button on your browser.
- For some of the data you will find click-able links. These links will take you directly to the service provider’s website (or in some cases to a specific page describing the offering from the vendor). Thus far, this data has been added mostly to the vertically-integrated Major Players in the Public Cloud. We’ll be adding more of these links over time.
- Over time, we anticipate adding more features, such as search by offering or provider name.
How We Used Force.com to Build the Map
One of our goals in refreshing the cloud ecosystem map was to move from a presentation based on Adobe Flash, which gave us tremendous interactivity, but was relatively static when it came time to change the underlying data. Going forward, we wanted something that would preserve the interactivity, but that would be more dynamic and database-driven, and that we could maintain ourselves. For these reasons, the current version of the ecosystem map is built on the Force.com platform and feeds information into an interactive web page.
Here’s how we did it…
Force.com uses a Model-View-Controller design paradigm for building custom applications.
Robust and Extensible data model: Force.com provides a robust and easy to build data model. Using just point-and-click we built a data model to store offering, cloud segment and vendor information and create relationships among them. Here is the Entity relationship diagram for the Cloud Ecosystem.
Force.com View and Controller: The Force.com platform also provides a simple way to develop a user interface. The UI uses Visuaforce pages and a built-in controller based on standard and custom objects (or you can write a custom controller from scratch). For the Ecosystem Map, we quickly put together an interactive UI based on ExtJS framework and wrote our own custom controller to get the data from custom objects and pass it to the Visualforce page as a JSON array. The ExtJS framework took the JSON data to create a data store and fed it into the data grids.
Now that we have it in our environment, we’ve realized that there are other ways we can use the data to improve the performance of our sales and delivery teams. We’ll be working on building out those capabilities next, and we’ll keep you up-to-date on our progress.
We’d like to thank the following Appirians who contributed their efforts to helping us with the refresh of the ecosystem map: Lori Asburry, Kirk Crenshaw, Eric Czerner, Nirav Doctor, Balakrishna Narasimhan, Bipin Nepani, Ryan Nichols, Huy Nguyen, Yamini Rangan, Michelle Swan, Jennifer Taylor, Mark Tognetti.
Nitin, Mark and the entire Appirio team.