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Manifold – A Cloud Native ‘Marketplace as a Service’

Our Nova Scotia profile introduces the keynote role the acquisition of GoInstant and the subsequent launch of Volta Labs has played in supercharging the local startup ecosystem.

Now the founder Jevon MacDonald is also pioneering his own new startup – Manifold.

With $15m series A investment from the likes of OMERS it’s already on a trajectory to be another huge accelerator for the province.

Marketplace as a Service

Manifold offers a capability for setting up your own marketplace of Cloud services. While marketplaces aren’t new often they are tied to one specific Cloud provider and increasingly enterprises are planning ‘multi-cloud‘ strategies.

Their blog describes the core value proposition:

Modern developers are using more cloud services for their applications than ever before. According to F5’s State of Application Services report for 2019, “87% of respondents have multi-cloud architectures, driven by an app-first methodology”. As the number of services continues to grow, they must choose their cloud platform carefully or risk getting locked into one that limits the tools available to them. Provisioning new services also requires developers to establish separate payment and security profiles with every provider. This gets pretty complex when teams of developers need access to the same services.

Manifold offers developers a route to new customers through publishing their apps to the marketplace, for example Dave Harrigan talks through setting up an Ansible-integrated service here.

Manifold has three distinct types of users:

  • Platforms. Platforms host a marketplace and deliver services to their users. This is done by embedding Manifold’s Marketplace-as-a-Service.
  • Providers. Providers are the service, APIs and other products listed on a Manifold powered marketplace.
  • Developers. Developers are the end users of Manifold powered marketplaces. They buy and manage services through the Platform marketplaces.

Manifold’s embedded marketplace architecture has three core components: Authentication, Embeddable Web Components and a GraphQL API.

Solution Pattern Libraries – Enabling repeatable best practices

The concept of Cloud Marketplaces becomes even more powerful when you consider tailoring them to different industry verticals and abstraction to a higher level of not just a technical components catalogue, but full business solutions that have been defined from prior successful projects.

Government is a great example of the huge value of this approach. Notorious for reinventing the wheel over and over and duplicating the same technologies to great taxpayer expense, such as multiple Local Governments each coming up with a slightly different IT solution to what is a commonly repeated pattern of exactly the same business processes.

Pioneers that have recognized this include the UK’s Hackney Council, where they are developing a ‘pattern library‘ approach that seeks instead to standardize these models into reuseable templates. Their catalogue on Heroku demonstrates the early stage nature of this approach and what the potential could be to instead deploy it to a platform like Manifold.

Canada too is also seeking to better share reuse of projects. On this page Canadian digital projects are listed as products, categorized by their lifecycle stage of Discovery, Alpha, Beta and Live. One product in production is Impact Canada, a scalable, reusable platform that creates new opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs to help solve Canada’s biggest challenges.

By open sourcing the code and methods it means this capability can be easily reused for other projects and reinventing the wheel avoided. The competition challenge model is a common format for encouraging Open Innovation and could be reused across a multitude of different scenarios, meaning the original investment yields a much larger ROI for taxpayers, and makes sharing of best practices considerably easier.

Given the $ billions governments around the world lose to these inefficiencies and the role the white hot niche of multi-cloud marketplaces could play in addressing them, it’s clear Manifold has the potential to be the single largest tech venture Nova Scotia has yet produced and by quite a magnitude.

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