This is a guest post from Joe McKendrick of TechRepublic’s sister site ZDNet. You can follow Joe on his ZDNet blog Service Oriented, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Who will lead or dominate the cloud computing space as this approach matures? Will there be dominant vendors offering the works, or combines of vendors teaming up to offer an ecosystem of cloud services?

At a recent BriefingsDirect panel, I had the opportunity to join Dana Gardner and other analysts in a rousing discussion of who may take the leadership role in the emerging cloud computing space. (Access podcast here, or transcript here.)

Forrester’s Jim Kolebius predicts that “well established platform vendors, like SAP, Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft, stand to do very well in the cloud-computing paradigm, because they have substantial, global, differentiated partner ecosystems.” Vendors offering specific services, such as cloud-based storage, will not dominate, unless they can team up with other partners in new cloud ecosystems. “They’ll probably be members or participants in several partner ecosystems, providing some core functionality, but they won’t dominate to the extent that the established brands will,” he says.

Jim also pointed out that “success in the emerging cloud arena depends on having a very broad and deep ecology of partners.” Jim said he sees “the partner ecosystem as the new platform for cloud computing.” The ability to assemble a group of partners, each providing various differentiated features and services, will advance vendors in the cloud computing market.

Will the cloud infrastructure providers be the hubs of these ecosystems? Brad Shimmin of Current Analysis noted that the infrastructure layer is where the action is in terms of cloud leadership. “There are a number of rudimentary basement layer infrastructure-as-a-service vendors out there who are going to be taking the Amazon model and talking to vendors to act as a part of that ecosystem, and to build out this infrastructure that will allow you to build and deploy any PaaS or SaaS on top of that,” he says. “What that says to me is that the vendors who have that strong infrastructure piece – the infrastructure software and in some cases the hardware and data centers themselves – are going to be well positioned to play in that ecosystem, regardless of what sort of SaaS applications they have.”