You can learn a lot in the aftermath of big announcements in the enterprise software world. Certainly this week has been no exception with former competitors (and enemies) becoming partners.

In addition to revealing something about the companies involved in the announcement, more broadly I believe it represents a significant acceleration towards a new kind of enterprise stack – the Cloud Stack .

This is shifting the focus from what is in the best interest of the vendor to what is in the best interest of the customer.

Aaron Levie, Co-Founder and CEO of Box, articulated this evolution beautifully in his post yesterday entitled The Rise of the Cloud Stack. Levie takes a look back at the history of the software ecosystem as a strategic series of horizontal and vertical moves. Once upon a time, the “one-stop shop” approach was status quo. Vertical stack solutions from proprietary lines were the answer to technological limitations, since time consuming, complex integrations meant that you couldn’t just buy one block – you had to move into the building. It wasn’t long before advancements in software integration soon gave way to a horizontal shift in the market, where multiple solutions could be layered, mixed and matched to fit a business’ needs.

Companies were left scrambling to make the pieces fit – with the burden of extracting value sitting heavily on the customer’s shoulders.

The cloud stack offers an alternative – an alternative not only to the expensive, time consuming, on-premise deployments, but also the freedom to choose the best solutions with the most customer value. The burden of delivering innovation and business value has shifted from the customer to the vendor in the era of the cloud stack. A complete 180 degrees shift from the monolithic era.

This shifting of the burden is opening the floodgates on innovation as cloud vendors will live or die on their ability to deliver meaningful value to business users.

We have finally entered an era where customers can choose solutions based on the true business value it provides to them - unfettered and uncolored by the legacy vendors push to “own” the stack.

Perhaps the Cloud era would be more aptly named the Customer era.