Gartner refers to this model as the creation of "ecosystems," where the service provider creates the environment in which the software and hardware vendors must play.
This isnt inherently a bad thing. Take a look at the news releases related to utility computing on any given day, and youll likely find that they are primarily announcements regarding partnerships between vendors designed to bring a specific offering to the business community.
As additional vendors come to the table, the development of standardized environments—where the offerings from many vendors are plug-and-play—will become the basic way that the service-focused offerings are presented.
Small business will be able to pick and choose from these standardized environments, while large businesses will be able to develop customized environments that reflect their ability to spend more dollars on the effort.
Yet there will be a broad range of options available, and the tweaking and tuning that can be done to offer a competitive business advantage, without the need for a fully customized environment, will be significant.
This will change the focus of the IT manager, however. The ability to manage the business relationship will become as important, or possibly more important, than managing the technology side of the equation. The single choice of a business service provider will make or break a company; the choice needs to reflect not only the current needs of the business, but also a realistic estimation of plans for growth.
Changing the selection of service provider will not be a simple act, given how tightly integrated into the business a successful business computing infrastructure is. Making the right choice upfront may define the future of the business completely, and thats a responsibility that IT rarely has had to deal with.