The emergence of multiple software ecosystems

A story of changing priorities; changing relationships; changing leverage points

It is hard to ignore the recent spate of news releases surrounding the creation of a new partnership. More than likely focused on complementary elements that represent the strengths of both participating parties. After all it is the recognition that holes may exist in the way any one vendor pursues market opportunities. For as long as I have been a part of the NonStop community, necessity and flexibility have gone hand in hand – flexible to the point of former protagonists getting together just as a need was identified over which further investment wasn’t warranted.

As a community, HPE NonStop’s presence within the Connect community is perhaps the biggest ecosystem of all and has grown through the years as the NonStop product portfolio has evolved. In part, this has been due to the need of most NonStop customers to find the best product fit to meet their business requirements. Looking for the best fit often involves returning to the NonStop vendors already supporting their systems. Not surprisingly, even if this means lobbying an existing vendor to provide additional functionality, there is a preference to continue to work with vendors with whom relationships have existed for many years.

However, there is another aspect to this dependence upon existing vendors that is hard to ignore. In-depth Proof of Concepts (PoCs) are costly. Should a NonStop customer elect to go down a more formal approach by issuing Request for Proposals (RFPs) that include PoCs of multiple products, the expenses incurred can be quite daunting and surely hard to justify the benefit of achieving what, exactly? Do they ensure the perfect fit of product features with business requirements or following such a pursuit, have the business requirements changed? Costly, yes! Guaranteed outcomes, no!

For major NonStop vendors to pursue the creation of an ecosystem is not only admirable but comes with a secondary benefit in that at least someone else out there albeit a vendor, has “skin in the game” when it comes to stepping outside of the product portfolio already relied upon by the NonStop customer. After all, there will always be the opportunity to return to your main vendor should things not go to plan with the plea, can you help us out? Can you talk to your associates? In business, having multiple paths to any member of your own mix of vendors is always a great advantage.

What has changed that has given rise to the current spate of news releases? The NonStop team has been putting together its own ecosystem of partners that arguably plug many of the holes that the NonStop team had identified. Whether older products where there was little incentive to invest further or simply a feature or capability that could be supported more quickly if a partner focused its own resources on making that happen. However, in so developing their own ecosystem they have elevated the stakes such that individually, NonStop vendors that are not a part of the NonStop ecosystem are now creating new allegiances to better ensure the products remain front and center in the minds of NonStop customers.

Showcase was the program whereby the NonStop team chose NonStop vendors, plugging those holes already identified and adding them to the NonStop price book. For many reasons this was a good idea and has been followed through in a manner whereby the NonStop sales team can construct a collection of products that would satisfy the needs of many businesses relying on NonStop. That doesn’t mean those NonStop vendors not so identified by the NonStop team miss out but rather ensure that they in turn step up their separate marketing programs. The better to do this is what has driven this spate of news releases featuring the formation of a new partnership to better serve the community. As we are coming to understand, the NonStop team doesn’t enjoy a monopoly on good products, as there are many more out there in the marketplace more than capable of meeting the needs of any NonStop customers.

Priorities have changed because market conditions have changed for quite a number of NonStop vendors. Rightfully, the NonStop team ran a critical eye over many of the smaller vendors as to the likelihood that their business model could be sustained. However, that didn’t mean the NonStop team relegated them to history – so many of the smaller vendors have the superior product offering, and maintaining a direct line of sight with the customer gave them an unfair advantage. Untethered from the NonStop release model meant that they could respond more quickly to these changing market conditions. It is against this background that many NonStop vendors have changed their priorities, recognized that they in turn cannot do it all, and have sought market strength in numbers. Two vendors working together simply means more feet on the street that in turn leads to opportunities being addressed more quickly.

Relationships have strengthened among NonStop vendors who for many reasons, mostly historic, have known each other for a long time and who have operated within their respective orbits. Again and not surprisingly, what Connect continues to do is to support Chapter and RUG events worldwide that in turn has ensured close contact among the vendor community. Recognizing that the relationships that they enjoyed probably had more to offer than table conversations at an event-sponsored beer bust, taking the next step and formalizing a relationship became an almost no-brainer activity. With NonStop Technical Boot Camp 2022 (NonStopTBC22) almost on us, it would only be reasonable to expect further partnerships to be announced all coming from the strength of the relationship forged over time.

Leverage brings value and that perhaps is the most important element of all. Where the corner is turned for any ecosystem that develops is the ability of participants to leverage the strengths of the relationships that have been formalized. This formalizing of a relationship can take many forms but the popular model of late isn’t focused on sales per se as each participant remains responsible for selling their own product. Rather, it’s all about being able to recommend to the NonStop customer a vendor who can readily complement their product mix. Having installed a data replication product, for instance, who should the customer turn to for security? Who should they bring in for additional implementation services? Who should they turn to for more detailed monitoring? And so on and so forth … for the NonStop community, these conversations will increase and there is good cause to believe that ultimately the sum of the parts leads to a more convincing experience over time.

Perhaps no other NonStop product anchors more discussions along these lines than NonStop SQL/MX. Either initial implementation or simply migrating from Enscribe or NonStop SQL/MP it certainly helps to know of vendors who have successfully done exactly this. As data takes on an even more important role as business begins to fully comprehend the value of data created on NonStop then the opportunities for greater engagement by the NonStop vendor community will likewise increase. And it is with the vendors focused on data where you will see the most activity occurring in building out their ecosystems to the benefit of all the NonStop community.

This is just one example highlighting how priorities, relationships, and the leverage that comes with that are taking place. NonStopTBC22 will likely see more activity in this regard as there are plenty more vendors looking to participate in ecosystems capable of delivering much more than can be achieved through independent operations. There is a reason why so much of the industry is pursuing cooperation at this level. It is not a pursuit that has any other aim than being beneficial to everyone in the NonStop community.

It was Gartner that stated in October 2021 that “Digital ecosystems have emerged as vibrant environments for bringing products and services to market. These groups of interdependent organizations offer tech CEOs new opportunities to access customers and partners by aligning with the value being delivered by the ecosystem’s participants.” Shouldn’t we all be pleased to read that when it comes to the NonStop community, this has been a highly visible outcome for many years?

 

Author

  • Richard Buckle

    Richard Buckle is the founder and CEO of Pyalla Technologies, LLC. He has enjoyed a long association with the Information Technology (IT) industry as a user, vendor, and more recently, as an industry commentator, thought leader, columnist and blogger. In the 1980s, Richard was a regular contributor to Computerworld Australia. Well known to the user communities of HP and IBM, Richard served on the board of the HP user group, ITUG (2000-2006), as its Chairman (2004-2005), and as the Director of Marketing on the board of the IBM user group, SHARE, (2007-2008). Richard has over 30 years of experience with HP’s NonStop platform, including eight years working at Tandem Computers followed by just as many years at ACI Worldwide and GoldenGate Software where he has focused on payments solutions with emphasis on ever-evolving communications and networks.