Cloud computing is changing the relationship between vendors and the channel is many ways. But none is more profound then when a vendor decides to not only build their own cloud, but also try to build its own channel ecosystem around that cloud.

Of all the cloud initiatives in the market today one of the few that is trying to take the channel to whole new level is the cloud computing platform being built out by CA Technologies. The Cloud Commons Ecosystem was originally created to serve the needs of customers that wanted to access cloud computing services based on a raft of cloud computing technologies that CA Technologies has assembled over the last several years.

Since it first launched CA Technologies has been inviting third-party vendors to add their products and services to the Cloud Commons Ecosystem. Thus far those vendors include AFORE Solutions, Layer 7 Technologies and Dome9 Security. All told, CA Technologies says there are now over 50 enterprise-class solutions available via its cloud computing platform.

According to Brian Burba vice president of solutions management, CA Technologies, what makes the CA Technologies approach different to the cloud is that beyond the fact that the cost of building and maintaining the cloud is absorbed by CA Technologies, the products and services that make up that cloud have been vetted for interoperability by CA Technologies. There is obviously a variety of cloud computing platforms that solution providers can leverage, very few of them are being managed on behalf of actual customers to the degree that CA Technologies is managing The Cloud Commons Ecosystem.

Burba says that’s an important distinction because when solution providers join The Cloud Commons Ecosystem they not only gain access to a cloud platform, they become part of a larger ecosystem that makes their services visible to customers of CA Technologies that are using the platform. In effect, The Cloud Commons Ecosystem adds another level of nuance to the process of generating leads on behalf of solution providers.

It’s hard to say how cloud computing will evolve in the channel. Every major vendor and distributor is trying to recruit solution providers to their cloud computing platform in the hopes that the solution providers will bring customers along with them. What CA Technologies is saying is that the process should work both ways. Solution providers should think about signing up to participate in a cloud computing environment because there are potential new customers on those platforms for them to meet.

There’s nothing about The Cloud Commons Ecosystem that another vendor couldn’t replicate. It will be interesting to see what impact the CA Technologies approach to cloud computing has on the channel. It may wind up achieving little, or simply be a very good idea that CA Technologies simply doesn’t have the critical mass to pull off. Then again, it may be the route through which CA Technologies recaptures some of its lost glory.

Regardless of the outcome it’s clear that cloud computing will soon change the way solution providers think about acquiring new customers. After all, once every customer is to one degree or another up on a cloud somewhere, the process of selling them additional products and services will require solution providers to be up on those same clouds.