It’s very difficult these days to consume any type of IT-related media and not hear about “stack wars”. Podcasts, VMUGs, tweets, and industry conferences. Company A does it all under one logo. Companies B, C and D are collaborating to create lock-in. Company B also works with other partners, so where are their real loyalties and strategies. Blah, blah, blah…
All of this makes great fodders for the media and Wall Street, but surprisingly, it matters very little to most of the companies I speak with these days. Yes, they monitor it closely because they want strategic partners instead of just suppliers. But more than anything else, the C-level discussions today are about Innovation. Innovation in raw technology; innovation in technology delivery models; innovation in using technology to radically change business models; innovation in partnership models.
Many customers I speak with are in markets where the pace of change is incredibly fast. Fast in the sense of market-leaders being on top in Year 1 and out of the market in Year 4-5 because they fell behind in technology use or adopted a bad strategy. They have global competitors with cost models and operational efficiency that people couldn’t fathom several years ago. Rapid change is part of their lives, hence they don’t look at Innovation as a “nice-to-have” but rather a “must-have”. They expect their business/technology partners to constantly be reinventing themselves and their technologies to give them every possible advantage they can create.
Sometimes it’s important to step back and realize that this “cloud” change that we’re going through is the beginning of a radical new way to do business. The technology that’s driving it is truly amazing. Creating new, complete Data Center environments within minutes. Live migration of active application workloads between cities. Constant availability of Data Center resources that are dynamically moving around the world in a follow-the-sun or follow-the-moon model. Secure user-access to corporate resources regardless of device type.
So if you’re looking at recent announcements, partnerships and alliances in terms of “stacks”, I’d suggest that you’re looking at it from an old school perspective. I’d recommend measuring them by how much innovation (technology, business, partnership, operational) it brings to the market. Not by how much delay it will bring to the inevitable changes that the global marketplace is creating.
Innovation is an incredible force in our industry. In very short periods of time, with the right products and execution, previously unimaginable shifts can occur in the market. But the key is to combine INNOVATION + SPEED. I’d argue that the right measure of “stacks”, if you choose to measure them, is Innovation + Speed. How does that bring value to your customers and their markets?
[Soapbox]: I wish the media (professional and amateur) would be slightly more appropriate in their usage of “war” in deference to the men, women and children that are materially effected by wars around the world. The stuff we do as IT vendors are competitive, and often heated, but none of us are at risk. Please be respectful to those people involved and avoid headlines that just generate clicks and ad-revenues. [/Soapbox]