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Vendor Partnerships | @CloudExpo #DevOps #BigData #DigitalTransformation

Building ecosystems to simplify cutting-edge agility

How Vendor Partnerships Can Maximize the Value from New Technology

Modern IT departments have enormous budgets and there's a veritable feast of technology out there to choose from. IT spending worldwide will total $3.5 trillion this year, according to Gartner. The challenge lies in selecting the right technology to drive your business forward and successfully integrating it into your stack. The proliferation of new cloud services, with countless small niche players working to maximize cloud value, has led to a serious management challenge.

Thankfully, IT departments do have a way out - they can look for vendor partnerships that do some of the integration legwork for them, or they can consider service orchestration and work with a systems integrator.

Vendor partnerships offer a shortcut to value
Many major enterprises have been putting their heads together and analyzing how they can maximize value for their clients. Take the alignment of Citrix and Microsoft, for example. Citrix offers a cloud service that delivers secure apps from Azure to any device, and XenDesktop enables secure productivity in the cloud with Office 365. In the past, an IT department would have had to allocate resources and work out how to integrate these services internally.

The result, when vendors form partnerships themselves, is invariably more secure and efficient. When they tailor their toolsets to work natively with each other, the integration burden evaporates, adding real business value. It frees up resources for clients, because they don't have to develop internally. Instead, they can pick what they need from a fixed menu and dive straight into the innovation and creativity that will really drive their business success and differentiate them in the marketplace.

System orchestration goes further
Identifying what you want from an ecosystem, managing the process, and assessing performance can also be a major burden for enterprises.

"In financial services, we spend an increasing amount of overhead managing third parties, and when we can forge close partnerships, it minimizes that overhead," Thomas Phillips, CIO of Elavon told CIO.com.

With service orchestration it's possible to get a vendor to do the heavy lifting for you. They take the lead in service provision and manage your service providers, but they also have to be accountable.

You may have your service orchestrator look at compliance, contract management, risk and security across all vendors. They manage how the service changes over time and, if vendors don't meet expectations, they're responsible for swapping them out for someone that does. With a process like this, you aren't relying on a monolithic system that has to be continually developed. You can look at what is happening in the market and cherry pick the best technology out there.

There seems to be a growing realization that if someone does something better than you can, then you should partner with them. This new attitude is driving solid partnerships that dramatically reduce cost and friction for clients. If your vendor can save you the research and integration headache by presenting a niche, cutting-edge tool, through a partner they've already integrated with, then there's tangible business value.

Marco Iansiti of Harvard Business School described companies like WalMart and Microsoft as keystones within their own business ecosystems. He suggests:

"By continually trying to improve the ecosystem as a whole, keystones ensure their own survival and prosperity. They don't promote the health of others for altruistic reasons; they do it because it's a great strategy."

Seeing the opportunity
This isn't just about selling or reselling a software product. It's about sharing valuable experience based on interactions with multiple companies over months and years. The business value is in understanding the software to the level of being able to see what type of value it could release in any particular business. With a deep knowledge of other vendors through these partnership agreements, service orchestrators can guide clients to the right tools for them and prove that they're working with the right metrics.

For a company to assess all the possibilities, pick the tools that add most value, and then work out how to integrate them efficiently is a major undertaking. It costs a lot of money and it will take a lot of time. That time and money is being withdrawn from the core aim of the business, which is to put out a product or service that delivers value to customers and draws a healthy revenue.

Speed-to-market offers obvious benefits, enabling companies to surpass their competitors. Agility is an increasingly vital component of long-term success, because companies must be able to pivot and exploit new technologies as they emerge. The two major benefits to come out of vendor partnerships and service orchestration are flexibility and reduced time-to-value and that's why they're proving so important today.

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