History has shown time and again that when confronted with much larger rivals, organizations inevitably will align themselves in a way that provides a counterbalance. Cloud computing is no exception.

Given the dominance of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Compute Engine (GOOG), IBM SoftLayer (IBM) and Microsoft Azure (MSFT), rival cloud service providers are looking to form alliances that would allow them to pool their collective resources to better serve the end customer.

Looking to make it easier for those alliances to form, OnApp today at the HostingCon 2014 conference announced the formation of the OnApp Federation, made up of an alliance of cloud service providers with data center in 170 locations.

OnApp COO Kosten Metreweli said the OnApp Federation leverages cloud management software developed by OnApp to enable the emergence of virtual service providers that have the scale needed to compete with much larger rivals.

Accessed via an open source portal developed by OnApp, the OnApp Federation extends a content delivery network created by OnApp into the realm of infrastructure as a service (IaaS). The difference now, said Metreweli, is that in addition to providing a CDN that gives solution providers access to a service that leverages a global network of data centers, OnApp is now giving solution providers access to the server and storage resources available in those data centers.

Each service provider maintains its relationship with the end customer, but can choose to work with any service provider in the federation to meet the requirements of any application workload. The hardest part, noted Metreweli, was not so much building the technology platform as much as negotiating all the contractual relationships between all the cloud service providers.

That announcement is in a similar vein to offerings from Virtustream. Today Virtustream announced it is extending the control over the federated cloud services that it enables out to internal IT organizations. According to Virtustream CEO and CTO Kevin Reid, the idea is to allow IT organizations to leverage multiple cloud service providers to create an IT supply chain in the cloud.

For solution providers in the channel, the rise of federated cloud services will provide more options. Instead of passively watching workloads aggregate on four major clouds, they can federate cloud capacity on a geographic basis that gives customers more control over when and where data is both processed and stored.

In essence, cloud service providers are combining their resources to give customers more control over a federated IT environment to enable the creation of a global IT supply chain. The solution provider in the age of the cloud that shows IT organizations how best to tap into that global supply chain without losing control of their IT environment should have the inside track with those customers for years to come.