I am an IT engineer and I've been asked a few days ago a question on which I was unable to answer. I've started looking on the Internet for it, and unfortunately I didn't find anything.

The friend of mine (also IT guy) asked me what an ecosystem is in IT world. Looks like a simple question, but I wasn't able to give him specific answer.

The Wikipedia says only about ecosystem in biological meaning and given there definition might be good, but it is not specific, giving only the general draft.

So I am asking you, this same - can you give a definition, or explanation, what an ecosystem in IT really is? Is it for example Android and Play store, or does it also involves SDK, maybe language, or something more? Or maybe Windows is an ecosystem. I don't have any good example, so example also would be nice.

Thank you for answers.

  • I think the reason computer scientists erroneously use the term ecosystem when they should be using the word system is that system has traditionally come to mean a single machine.
    – Pithikos
    Aug 19, 2014 at 9:17

2 Answers 2


There is a Wikipedia article about Digital Ecosystems, but I don't think it fully answers your question.

I think there can be many different examples/definitions based on the usage.


For instance, the Apple ecosystem includes the Mac, iOS, and iTunes.

Apple isn't coming out with new devices randomly; it is building a carefully-crafted ecosystem. This integration would take on a number of forms:

  • iCloud services integration: This one is a no-brainer. Extending services such as iMessage, Find My Friends, and Find My iPhone to a smartwatch would not only give the services a new platform to operate from, but also give a sales boost to the existing iOS lineup. The iWatch would become the ultimate accessory;

  • iOS integration: Who just called you? Where's your iPhone? What's the battery level on your iPad? Which apps need updating? Imagine being able to see all this from a device on your wrist;

  • OS X integration: Features such as authentication—perhaps via near-field communications (NFC), biometrics, or Bluetooth—and being able to control features such as scheduled backup and updates would handy if they were close to hand, say, on your wrist.

Source: ZDNet

Android's ecosystem is built to rival this (as expected):

From Forrester's James McQuivey: "Learning a lesson from Amazon, Google can see that the only way to beat the premium-worthy iPad is to go for the millions of customers who are ready for smaller and cheaper tablets and then grow those customers into more Android powered devices and, more importantly, Google-powered services like Google Play and whatever paid video experience YouTube will likely create. That range of services will be the secret to stitching together this rag-tag fleet of Android gadgets into a platform that can compete with Apple for minutes of user's attention rather than premium device dollars."

Source: CNN


You could have a programming ecosystem, which would include your documentation that you reference, API's that you use, an IDE (if you use one), the libraries you utilize, and possibly even the OS you use (if you choose a language like VB or C#, you're most likely going to use Windows).


Your ecosystem could even be the technologies you use daily. If you use a desktop with Windows 7, a mobile phone running Android, a tablet running iOS, and a laptop running Debian Mint, you would have mixed ecosystem (one that would probably be a specialized case, possibly a cross-platform developer).


I think IT Ecosystem means what is the means of some special words in IT, I find some example about this. If you want to more you can check this here.


All elements that interact within our IT "ecosystem" are instances of subclasses of Element.


A single process, image, context, or code that is executed by a Platform. Also, a tightly integrated suite of such that is referred to in aggregate as a single Application instance.


A collection of data, electronic or hardcopy. Not the technology that renders access to the database (that's often a DBServer). Some databases are "bundled" with an Application and are not represented by a separate Database instance.


The actual bare metal underlying other, more ephemeral, Elements.


General-purpose hardware, such as a Dell, IBM, or Sun computer. Unused as yet.


Special-purpose hardware, such as a load balancer.


Storage-specific hardware, such as SAN and NAS devices.


People, groups of people, and activities conducted by these. Don't want an org chart here. Rather, some Liveware instances may be necessary to have a self-contained portrayal of interrelated Elements.


A collection of Persons undertaking a common Program.


A specific human, or a role that one might occupy.


A suite of related activities carried out by people in support of some identified aspect of the organization's mission. Example: "help desk" (4tech).


A software Element that Hosts other Elements.


An application server, such as JBOSS, Tomcat, or ColdFusion.


Application Service Provider


A database server that may Host one or more Databases. Usually an instance of a relational database technology such as Oracle, MS SQL Server, or MySQL.


A physical or virtual machine, i.e., a general purpose operating system platform which runs software processes.


A platform that virtual machines run on.


An HTTP server.


All reified relations among instances of the Element class are subclasses of ITEcoRelation.


Provides (part of) the environment in which the hosted instance operates. Domain: Hardware, Platform. Range: Database, Platform, Application.


Constitutes an essential part of a larger aggregate. Allows the aggregate to be the referent of a relationship which may in fact refer to one or more of its parts. Domain: Database, Hardware, Program, Platform, Application. Range: Program, Application.


A run-time relationship in which the destination Element opens a connection to or initiates a transaction with the source Element. Domain: Platform, Application. Range: Platform, Application.


Changes the content or configuration of. Domain: Application. Range: Database, Hardware, Platform, Application.


Other or unknown types of relationships. If you must use Other, make sure to say something meaningful in its Notes property. Domain: All classes. Range: All classes.


Provides a benefit to without hosting, serving, or being a part of. Domain: Database, Liveware, Application. Range: Database, Hardware, Program, Platform, Application. Examples: a Person or Group may support an Application. An Application may support a Program.


Transfers data to, exclusive of run-time client-server interactions. Typically a batch export/import. Domain: Database, Application. Range: Database, Platform, Application.

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