by Mark Koenig and Nitin Jain
Last November, Appirio introduced the Cloud Ecosystem Map, a tool that could be used by business and IT executives to help them navigate the cloud ecosystem. In the 10 months since then we have watched as that page has become the most-visited page on our website (other than our homepage); in fact, there are over 10,000 inbound links to the ecosystem map. We’ve also watched the cloud ecosystem continue to change: IBM acquired Cast Iron, Oracle bought Sun, HP purchased 3Par. Existing players introduced new applications; indeed, two days after we introduced the map, salesforce.com introduced Chatter.
The map has succeeded in delivering against its original objectives – to make it easy to access and understand the cloud ecosystem – but as we have heard from our readers and customers, and as we learned ourselves, there is also room for improvement. As the ecosystem continued to change at “cloud speed,” the map began to lose credibility.
When it came time to refresh the ecosystem map, lo and behold we discovered that we are the cobbler’s children: sure we had a really cool, interactive map, but the database underneath it was not easy to update, and more importantly, didn’t allow for a dynamic cost-effective feed to the Flash environment. an update was going to be an expensive proposition. What we really needed to do was to re-architect. And that’s what we’ve done. Last week, on the same day that Appirio launched an offering of our own into the ecosystem, we also re-launched the Cloud Ecosystem Map.
We built the new version of the map on using the Force.com platform to store the data and a custom Visualforce page as the presentation layer. This allows us to keep the interactivity that we liked so much about the original version, but gives us the flexibility to update the map much more frequently. To read Nitin Jain’s detailed Release Notes that describe how we built the new Ecosystem Map, check out our Product Blog.
Take the Oracle acquisition of Sun as an example. Currently on the Ecosystem Map they are presented as two separate columns. Over time, we will be able to consolidate this into a single column to reflect changes as the company rationalizes its offerings. And last but not least, because we run our business in the cloud using technology from Force.com, we can maintain the map ourselves going forward.
As is often the case with cloud-based applications, we are finding unexpected benefits as well. Because all of the information in the underlying database for the Ecosystem Map is now an integral part of our company’s computing environment – and stored in the same database as all of our accounts, leads, opportunities, projects and more – our team is already identifying future uses for the application. Future phases of the ecosystem map project will have an internal focus that will help us improve the ability of our account teams to deliver great solutions to our customers. Two that we are currently in the design phase for were suggested via our use of Salesforce Ideas:
- Connect the ecosystem database to our Customer Data Vault. This will allow our account teams to quickly find prior examples of work with have done in conjunction with (or alongside of) other vendors in the cloud ecosystem.
- Connect the ecosystem database to the Account Object in our Sales Cloud. This way our account teams can identify those cloud ecosystem vendors (and their solutions) that our clients and prospects have invested in while building their own ecosystems.
Undoubtedly there will be more ideas that we discover as the Ecosystem Map continues to evolve. Which brings us to our final point. This is very much a work-in-progress. It is not intended to be a comprehensive view of the landscape; it is, however, easily updated. So we are asking you to help us keep it up to date by sending us submissions for consideration in future updates. That way we can keep it current for all.