Platform-as-a-Service cloud development is poised for breakout

Platform-as-a-Service cloud development is poised for breakout

Summary: Platform-as-a-Service is not without its risks, but is one of the easiest and most productive ways to take advantage of cloud economics, blogs Mike Gilpin.


My colleague John Rymer expects platform-as-a-service (PaaS) technology to “cross the chasm” into mainstream status over the next three years (2012-2014). Today, PaaS solutions, which provide application development and deployment tools abstracted from the underlying cloud infrastructure on which they run your apps, fall into four types: 1) Pure cloud integrated development environments (IDEs); 2) Traditional IDEs that offer the option of cloud deployment; 3) IDE-neutral cloud runtimes that can run apps built by multiple types of IDEs; and 4) PaaS solutions designed for use by business developers. John sees all four of these categories aiming to cross the chasm in this timeframe but doesn’t expect all four segments to succeed in making that transition.

Why does this matter? PaaS is one of the easiest and most productive ways to take advantage of cloud economics, and the elasticity of the cloud, by providing an easily consumable elastic app platform. Today, most apps for the cloud either lack the ability to automatically scale up or down in their use of cloud resources, based on demand, or else gain that ability through complex programming to low-level APIs and frameworks. PaaS provides access to the cloud without all the drama. Only through taking full advantage of these attributes of the cloud can your business realize the full benefits the cloud theoretically provides.

PaaS is not without its risks: These solutions often have a proprietary nature that locks you in to the platform. Apps built this way are hard or even impossible to move to other platforms (read: rewrite). But sometimes PaaS will be worth the risk: for example, when the PaaS is part of a broader cloud solution, running a software-as-a-service (SaaS) app into which your business has already bought. In this case, you’ve already taken the risk, so you might as well reap the additional rewards that can come from being able to rapidly deliver additional application capabilities to the business. In other cases, PaaS will be worth the risk because it's such a good fit to the needs of business developers and has no more lock-in risk than the tools they are already using.

Forrester has designated PaaS and elastic application platforms (EAP) as two of the top 10 technology trends enterprise architects should watch in the period 2012 to 2014. Be sure to check out this research to equip you to more effectively plan the use of new information technology in your enterprise, whatever kind of architect you are – enterprise or application. And if PaaS options look attractive for your business, check out John's research, too.

Topic: Cloud

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  • Just run that headline another few years

    (as they have for the past few years) and they just might be proven accurate at some point.
    William Farrell
  • PaaS is here now, but it has a bit of baggage

    Based on the number of PaaS offerings cropping up I would say there is a valid demand for it. The key to a good PaaS implementation however shouldn't be based on the IDE. Integration between the PaaS platform and the IDE is nice, but it is probably not a driving factor in adoption. I am surprised to see this as such an important factor. The PaaS should be "app-centric" not "VM-centric", the more you tinker with the underlying infrastructure the more you move towards "IaaS". A good PaaS should also be "opinionated" about the languages that are permitted on the platform and should have access to scalable services like SQL, NoSql, Message Queues, Access Control to name a few.

    @Mr Farrell, I believe PaaS is more widespread then most think, if adoption seems slow it is because PaaS is "forward looking", many will not rewrite an existing app to port it to PaaS thus only new apps are appearing on the platform. We will continue to see more and more as people want the hassle of infrastructure - be it physical or virtual - less and less.
  • RE: Platform-as-a-Service cloud development is poised for breakout

    Platform as a Service is critical significant because it is the foundation of rapid application development and deployment ??? which is what the business cares about.
    In addition to serving as the elastic enabling layer for applications, it is also the giant lever for application developer productivity.

    A PaaS offers developers:
    1. Choice ??? by offering developers application lifecycle capabilities in a services model, developers use and pay for only the services they need. Repository, compile, test, stage and run services can all be individually utilized as needed to fit individual team and project needs.
    2. Freedom ??? by offering these services in the cloud, the developer is now free from the hassles of setting up development, testing, and deployment infrastructure including servers, databases, software, networks etc. IT and development partnership and interaction is smoother, delivering new capabilities faster with better quality and improving business competitiveness.
    3. Focus ??? by eliminating all of the friction associated with the development infrastructure, developers can now spend all of their time writing great business applications.
  • RE: Platform-as-a-Service cloud development is poised for breakout

    PaaS is crossing the chasm for developers, but it also has other big opportunities. ISVs and hosters are adopting IaaS en mass, especially as the OpenStack begins to mature. PaaS is the absolute best sales tool for IaaS, with sliders that can provision more resources and higher utilization with a click of a button.

    Also, as Salesforce has shown, the best way to build SaaS is on PaaS (they have 3:,, and Heroku). Anyone wanting to build a SaaS empire is going to need PaaS going forward.

    This is only the tip of the iceburg, PaaS is here to stay, it may even provide more and bigger opportunities than the virtualization revolution that kicked of the IaaS tsunami.