Sir Isaac Newton certainly didn't have information technology in mind when he formulated his third law of motion, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Yet watching the events of 2009 unfold, I could have sworn I saw Newtonian physics at work in the IT vendor partner ecosystem.\n\nIt started early in the year with Cisco's announcement of its entry into the server business. That one action altered the competitive landscape overnight. It sent shock waves out toward Dell, IBM and HP, all of whom scrambled to counter this frontal attack on their core businesses. IBM signed separate deals with Juniper and Brocade, Dell signed its own agreement with Juniper, and HP leapt into the fray with its $2.7 billion acquisition of 3Com.\n\nThe traditional partner ecosystem was altered again when HP boldly acquired EDS. That deal alone radically changed the outsourcing\/services sector. Xerox acquired ACS. Dell acquired Perot Systems. Independents like Accenture and CompuCom are waiting impatiently for suitors.\n\nConsider how these unfolding partnerships will ultimately impact IT buyers. Cisco, EMC and VMware formed Acadia, a new venture to "accelerate data center virtualization and private cloud infrastructures." Microsoft and HP are aligning around unified communications, more deeply integrating their products to chase the market for small- to midsize businesses. How much of that action\/reaction is really being driven by Oracle's acquisition of Sun?\n\nAs these vendor actions play out, what kind of equal and opposite reactions will they have in the customer realm? I'd like to think the results will mean better solutions and services for you, but what if the spin created by all these Newtonian reactions pushes IT suppliers in the wrong direction?\n\nOne of our core beliefs at CIO magazine is that our readers are the best source of guidance for the vendor community, deeply engaged as they are in understanding the overall vision and direction of key industry players. With that in mind, we've launched in this issue the first in our regular series of Vendor Vision Map profiles. An advisory board of CIO Executive Council members selects the subjects for these objective, high-level executive summaries. Check out our first profile (on Citrix) and let me know if we've hit the mark.