Where Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) must go next

More Robust Apps Needed NOW!Platform-as-a-Service is hot these days.
Written by Brian Sommer, Contributor

More Robust Apps Needed NOW!

Platform-as-a-Service is hot these days. Vendors like NetSuite and salesforce.com have their clouds as to players like Amazon and Google. Cloud providers like to promote their capabilities to application developers and, in doing so, create an ecosystem full of low-cost applications for users to choose from.

That's a great concept for end-user, personal applications but the best clouds, long-term, may well be those that cultivate and convince larger application software vendors to move their offerings to their clouds. Coda and salesforce.com did such a deal last year and we should be hearing more on this before long as Coda, I believe, was going to put more applications on this environment (this product line is marketed as Coda 2Go). The Coda/Salesforce teaming is really good as it pairs a well-established CRM product line with a very solid financial accounting system.

When you want to win over the hearts and minds of back office buyers, vendors (including cloud providers) must address the concerns of people like CFOs, Controllers and Finance Directors. None of these individuals ever want to be on the cover of the Wall Street Journal explaining why their firm's books won't balance or close. To sell cloud capabilities up-market to mid-and large enterprises, the applications need: - Solid provenance - does the developer/vendor really understand this functional space? - Proof - Show prospects that this solution absolutely, positively works. Just because someone can click on an icon to enable a SaaS app, doesn't mean it actually works. - Relevancy - Are the applications relevant for this size of business and its complexities? A financial system today needs work in hundreds of countries globally not just the one where the developer lives.

For PaaS to really take off in the enterprise, cloud providers must cultivate relationships with major software vendors. We need to see vendors like Infor, Sage and others being wooed into the arms of a major cloud provider. When those apps start showing up in the cloud, we'll start seeing some real cloud and platform adoption then.

Several large software vendors though will not respond to these entreaties though. They've spent millions cobbling together their own marketechtures or proprietary platforms. Unfortunately, their platforms are best designed for those firms who still want on-premise solutions. Having a development platform is not the same as a cloud based platform. This distinction is critical as the cloud based platforms take all the lower stack items (e.g., hardware and middleware) off the table. If you use the platforms of old-school vendors, you're on the hook for a lot of hardware and software. How expensive can that be? A recent deal I negotiated had the DBMS costing more than the application software.

PaaS vendors: move up-market now. Ally with larger application software vendors and provide mid-market and enterprise software buyers better application software choices and better system economics.

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