The independent ISV market for cloud automation software got smaller today with CSC’s announcement that it will acquire ServiceMesh. I’ve been predicting a take-out of ServiceMesh with my inquiry customers for months, but this was faster than I expected. In short, CSC has picked up one of the few independent hybrid/multi-cloud management vendors. The buy makes sense for several reasons:

CSC needs a unified service catalog, orchestration, and governance platform to pull together its successful and growing cloud business and enable faster enterprise cloud migrations to its multiple cloud offerings (public, virtual private, private). The enterprise evolution to cloud is step-wise – some apps, some infrastructure, and some business units – and buyers need a partner to help decide which makes the most sense to migrate first, and how. CSC can combine its strong managed services capabilities and IT management tools expertise with the application lifecycle (DevOps) focus of ServiceMesh to reach a powerful cloud buyer: the app owner and developer. Apps are where the cloud action is.

CSC wants to maintain some degree of cloud neutrality, and ServiceMesh has built its reputation as a cloud-neutral governance and orchestration platform. ServiceMesh focuses first on applications and services, and leaves infrastructure management to the cloud providers. CSC gains a neutral multi-cloud (read hybrid) orchestration suite and ServiceMesh gets the ability to scale on the back of CSC’s global services footprint. I’ve been waiting for some new marquee customers for the ServiceMesh Agility platform and hope the partnership will bear fruit quickly.

Everyone else has an orchestrator. HP and IBM have catalogs and orchestrators built to bridge their public IaaS platforms, converged infrastructures, and customers’ existing kit. BMC and CA have rich stacks of ITSM-derived cloud infrastructure management tools. VMware and Microsoft have cloud automation+orchestration, too, and are both now in the public IaaS game. And every one of these claims to be cloud agnostic and is chasing the DevOps buyer. With CSC’s IaaS offerings gaining steam so quickly, it needed an answer to these rich competitive stacks.

With Dell scooping up Enstratius last spring, every major infrastructure vendor has a multi-cloud management story now. Does it matter if your cloud management vendor also sells cloud services? It shouldn’t, because you should be defining your cloud application architectures and your governance policies independently. If cloud means anything to the enterprise, it means we need to let app requirements dictate infrastructure behavior and not the other way around. And cloud will be an option for most enterprise workloads – make no mistake.

I covered ServiceMesh and others in my recent report Cloud Management In A Hybrid Cloud World. In that report I lay out the three essential tiers of cloud management and why they can be approached independently: cloud service governance, operations, and delivery. ServiceMesh gives CSC a powerful and extensible app-centric cloud policy engine for governance and operations across multiple clouds, and leaves cloud delivery to the providers. Check out my in-depth case study of Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s move to IT-as-a-Service for more.

Lauren Nelson provides in-depth analysis of CSC’s private cloud offerings in The Forrester Wave™: Hosted Private Cloud, Q1 2013 report and I encourage you to check that out as well. All of us on the cloud team at Forrester will continue to track the exciting cloud management market space in 2014.