In one of my latest reports (Key Criteria for Evaluating Unstructured Data Management), one of the key criteria was the availability of a marketplace. Adding functionalities to your infrastructure quickly, without having to go through a complex purchase, installation, and configuration process is invaluable.
App stores in the consumer space changed the way users purchase and consume software and services. The same happened in the public cloud, with almost all cloud providers offering pre-packaged, tested, integrated solutions to seamlessly expand their ecosystem. More so, these add-ons are often billed with the rest of the services offered by the provider, simplifying the payment process.
Now we are seeing the same thing happening with hybrid and traditional Enterprise IT solutions.
Last week, for example, while I was attending Cloud Field Day 7, VMware showed its marketplace for VMware Cloud on AWS, and today I saw the Red Hat Marketplace during a presentation at Tech Filed Day Virtual for the Red Hat Summit!
Why Does It Matter?
- Easier to Find a Solution: You browse the catalog and look for a solution. If you find it there, it is supported, tested, integrated and the installation process follows standard rules. It is not a proof of the quality of the solution, but it gives you an idea of how simple it is to adopt and deploy.
- Easy to Test: Most of the solutions available in the marketplace can be tested for a limited time or with some limitations. The installation process is simple and building a PoC for an existing infrastructure can take minutes instead of days or weeks. You don’t need to plan too much in advance. If your infrastructure has the characteristics and the resources to run it that is all you need to begin.
- Easy to Purchase: once you tested the solution you can delete it with or buy it with just a few clicks. In many cases, the billing is integrated with the rest of your subscriptions. This is not always the case though, and sometimes you may end up with different invoices at the end of the month. But the purchasing processes are simplified.
- Easy to Remove: Yes, we are entering the era of Everything-aaS. You need an application for three months and then you don’t need it anymore? Just remove the subscription and you are done. You don’t even need to delete the software. If you need it again, you just need to reactivate it.
I’m oversimplifying here, of course, these processes are usually much more complicated than what I described above, but I wanted to give you an idea about the potential of marketplaces. For example, Apple changed the phone market not only because of the fancy hardware but primarily because of the applications and the App Store. The same is happening to enterprise IT now, to a certain extent.
Closing the Circle
When you evaluate a new solution, no matter if it is hardware or software, you should always ask yourself if there is a solution ecosystem around it and how easy it is to access. The existence of a marketplace is probably a good sign of the potential for this solution ecosystem and you should always check how it works and how extensive it is.
Cloud providers have marketplaces, now hybrid cloud platforms have it as well, the next step will be the private enterprise marketplace. Something we have already tried a few years back with the first failed attempts of private clouds and service catalogs. Now technology is more mature and applicable, I’m pretty sure we will see these marketplace solutions popping up soon.