Cloud Ecosystem Map – Release Notes

November 16, 2009 Appirio

By Troy Angrignon

Today, Appirio launched an interactive cloud ecosystem map on, using the map I produced in March as a base, and building on it based on Appirio’s experience helping move thousands of companies to the cloud. This post is intended to explain this new release of the cloud ecosystem map and how to use it.

What’s on the map:
It sometimes seems as though EVERYTHING is being described as “cloud”: SaaS apps, hosted apps, hosting companies… even on-premise virtualization platforms – all are described as “cloud” by some vendors. No wonder there’s market confusion. We wanted to sort through the hundreds of offerings being described as “cloud” and put them into some sort of taxonomy so that customers could make sense of this rapidly expanding marketplace.

We’ve done 2 types of sorting:

  • The first sorting is vertically, by layer of the technology stack. There seems to be emerging consensus around the 3 major layers of the cloud: applications, application platforms, and infrastructure. Within each of these layers, however, are dozens of different types of solutions. Most are not true “layers” of technology, but we made a rough attempt to sort them by their level of abstraction in order to make clear what’s running on what.
  • The second sorting is horizontally, by type of solution. The underlying architecture of a solution matters, because it drives the economics available to the customer. Our first column is reserved for solutions that are multi-tenant, single instance– what we’ll call true public cloud. The second column 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 column 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.

    How to use the map:

    Macro view:When you start at the front page, you will see a 3 x 3 box, defined by the dimensions above. From this view, you can see the overall landscape of apps, platforms, and infrastructure of all three types: public, hosted, and private. You can also see the major players here and glance at their lines to see where they play overall. For example, you’ll note that Salesforce provides things at all three layers but that some of that functionality is directly accessible to the user (black lines) and some is not (denoted with grey lines). Depending on whether you are focusing on higher levels of abstraction and business value and less on hands-on IT, you will consider that a benefit or a curse.

    Zoomed View: To dig deeper, click any of the 9 sub-boxes in order to enter that box.

    • Once inside a given box, there are two pages (left and right) that will give you the full view of all data. The first page contains the largest or most vertically integrated players in the category. The second page contains either the smaller or the more point-solution focused providers. That’s a guideline, not a rule– appearance in the right hand page does not denote lack of power or size!
    • You will also find a miniature nine-box navigation icon in the upper left corner. You can use that to jump directly from any section to any other section by clicking on the appropriate square in that navigation icon. Should you wish to go to the main page, simply click on our logo or on “Home.”
    • For some of the data you will find clickable links. This data has been mostly added to the vertically integrated major players in Column 1: Public Cloud / Multi-tenant. We’ll be adding more of these links over time.
    • You will also see green dots throughout the document. Those are connection points horizontally across the landscape. It means that there is a partnership connection or that that offering connects within a column or between major columns. A great example is the Finance row where has deep integrations with external partners. There are many of those cross-column, cross-cloud, and public/private bridging mechanisms. We believe there will be a lot of innovation in this area and we sometimes refer to them as “bridging” technologies.

    How to contribute:
    Please note that this is very much a work-in-progress. It is not and was not intended to be 100% comprehensive. It is intended to be a “very good sketch”, not a super high resolution photo of the landscape. Our goal is really to note the 20% that covers 80% of the cases, particularly in the platform and infrastructure layers. The Saas marketplace has been covered very well already by the likes of Jeff Kaplan’s SaaS Showplace. Having said that, feel free to send us submissions for consideration in future updates as it is intended to be a dynamic, living, breathing work.

    Please explore the document and give us your feedback, thoughts, ideas, and company suggestions by clicking on the “feedback” link on the map or emailing us at

    We’d like to give a nod to those who have already contributed their valuable time and energy to this project: This map began a year ago and at the time it was heavily built upon the work of the following amazing people: Peter Laird, Kent Dixon, Christofer Hoff,, Michael Sheehan, Sam Charrington, Robert W. Anderson, Matias Wiloski, John M. Willis, James Urquhart, David Berlind, Randy Bias, and Jean-Lou Dupont. I then expanded it through the involvement and sponsorship of Dealmaker Media and the Under the Radar Clarity in the Cloud program and it was published kindly by Recently I have been lucky enough to work with some of the top thinkers in cloud today – my colleagues here at Appirio – many of whom I got to research, white-board, argue, debate, and create with. During this time we pushed ourselves to re-evaluate the nine-box approach and the overall taxonomic structure to make sure it stood up to review. I’m convinced that because of this work, this version of the map is the best yet. Now we are sharing it out, in the hopes that you will come and help make it even better. We hope that this piece of work will contribute in some small way as a tool to help people understand the complexities of public cloud, hosted services, and private clouds and the interplay between them all.

    Troy and the entire Appirio team.

    Previous Article
    Navigating the Cloud Ecosystem
    Navigating the Cloud Ecosystem

    This week, nearly 16,000 people will descend on Moscone center for’s Dreamforce conference, ...

    Next Article
    Learning from the Pioneers – Vetrazzo
    Learning from the Pioneers – Vetrazzo

    Today, we’ll be speaking to James Sheppard.  James is the CEO of Vetrazzo.  Vetrazzo collects discarded gla...