Businesses that procure cloud storage systems are buying into more than just their providers' services. Ideally, they are also gaining entry to a partnership ecosystem, through which they can access a variety of services in areas like networking, hardware and management software. Cloud computing's rapid evolution has necessitated some unconventional partnerships, including alliances between competing providers seeking to meet strong demand.

Alliances between telecoms and cloud service providers have become more common in recent times, with Microsoft's partnership with AT&T being a prominent example. Writing for InfoWorld, Serdar Yegulalp observed that these new partnerships make sense because telecoms can devote bandwidth to specific cloud customers and provide extra amenities like VPN access to the cloud.

For now, agreements like Microsoft-AT&T indicate the cloud industry's open, expansive attitude toward partnerships. Eager to sign up as many partners as possible, providers have even entered into co-opetition arrangements, which have seen competitors like Salesforce and Workday collaborating on projects.

InformationWeek executive editor Doug Henschen stated that these unusual alliances may be the product of the cloud supplier seeking to give customers a highly integrated solution that is also inexpensive to set up. More specifically, a co-opetition arrangement could allow for a cloud to be deployed more quickly and optimized for big data workflows via Hadoop support.

"The co-opetition factor has gone up, and it has gone beyond certified integrations," Teradata vice president Rob Berman told InformationWeek. "Today, that's table stakes, and partners have to operationalize those integrations and provide supporting expertise."

However, the wave of high-profile partnerships, especially ones involving telecoms, has also raised concerns about net neutrality and long-term openness. Providers and partners will have to think about how practices like dedicating a telecom's bandwidth to a specific proprietary cloud will affect the interoperability of cloud software at-large.

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