PaaS may not be ready for the enterprise, at least this year

Platform as a Service, as it now stands, is too much about "dev" and not enough about "ops."

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Platform as a Service (PaaS) is heralded as the next stage in the cloud evolution, as organizations seek to help beef up, speed up and expand the repertoire of their developers, and also abstract (and possibly commoditize) their middleware and database layers.

Gartner is all excited about it, anointing 2015 as the year PaaS explodes on the scene, garnering $1.8 billion in worldwide revenues next year, jumping to $2.9 billion by 2016.

However, Mike Kavis thinks there are still too many gaps in the PaaS picture for it to make significant progress in enterprises, at least this year. In a recent post, he points to no less than eight issues that still make PaaS something untenable. For the record, Mike says he is optimistic that PaaS will be a big deal in a year or so. PaaS vendors are "aggressively addressing" any barriers, particularly to private PaaS adoption. But here are the hurdles to adoption, particularly in an enterprise private or hybrid cloud context:

Confusing marketing message:  "Ask five people what PaaS is and you’ll get five different answers," Mike says. These range from "specific areas like mobile, DevOps, big data, etc., as well as general purpose PaaS solutions that target application development." PaaS also can be delivered via public, private or hybrid cloud arrangements.

Lack of maturity: PaaS is lagging in enterprise adoption. "Of the three different cloud service models (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS), PaaS is by far the least mature," Mike points out.

Lack of operational features: Unfortunately, PaaS is more dev than ops. Most private and hybrid PaaS solutions "cater to the developers and neglect much of the needs of the operations teams," Mike says. He is not alone in this observation: James Thomason agrees that PaaS is still too much "NoOps," creating "a number of new challenges for operations, such as data replication and migration, disaster recovery, security, and governance, that can all have dire consequences when ignored." (But he also feels PaaS will finally burst on the scene in 2015, so next year is definitely shaping up as a PaaS year.) 

Lack of maturity of IaaS: Adding to the maturity issues with PaaS is the relative immaturity of Infrastructure as a Service underneath it in private cloud settings. "Most CIOs would rather focus on getting IaaS right first before embarking on a PaaS journey," Mike states.

Questionable speed to market: "Many enterprises have this belief that you can simply buy a PaaS solution and developers will immediately start achieving greater speed to market," Mike says. But the reality is "it takes a lot of effort to successfully implement a private PaaS along with all the operational processes required to deliver SLAs, high availability, make auditors and security teams happy, and actually service the application developers."

No clear industry leader: CIOs are nervous about the abilities of many vendors to simply stay in business, Mike says.

Value proposition not fully understood: "I can’t count how many companies are willingly or unwillingly building a 'Poor man’s PaaS' on top of their IaaS layer," which is not likely to deliver the full range of benefits.