Developers Taking a PaaS on Clouds

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 21, 2011

One could argue that the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market is reaching a golden age of increased maturity, competition and usability. However, some have posited the idea that the Platform as a Service (PaaS) market hasn’t quite reached the same level, leaving many developers who want to reduce the time and cost to build applications either in the dark or forced to choose between a host of options that never quite fit their needs.

Among general market maturity is the fact that many PaaS platforms lack the interoperability required for today’s developers. As it stands, users of PaaS services are forced to “pick and stick” with a particular PaaS vendor as their code cannot be easily, if at all, migrated to another platform.

As Manivannan Govindan, APAC director for Cloud Services at CA Technologies, told ZDNet today, “Careful assessment is vital in selecting the right platform that meets the application’s functional requirements and operational needs.” Govindan explained that his company views the viability of the vendor and level of security for the data and intellectual property of the apps it creates on the platform, as key points of consideration.

Last year research firm IDC remarked on this instability in the PaaS market in its assessment that the PaaS sphere would represent the “next cloud battleground” as companies raced to find solutions that could compare with the likes of Microsoft’s Azure platform and still offer application flexibility.

There could be a new slew of PaaS offerings on the horizon this coming year. Red Hat has just announced its OpenShift offering and VMware opened the doors to its CloudFoundry. Amazon has PaaS capabilities and many expect that IBM’s answer to the PaaS market should arrive sometime this year.

A May research report from Forrester analysts John Rymer, vice president and principal analyst, and Stefan Ried, principal analyst, addresses the issue further. “With good PaaS products, application development and delivery pros will quickly gain cloud’s benefits,” they state. “[But] without good PaaS products, cloud [application] development is simply too difficult for most enterprise developers, and the benefits of cloud will flow slowly, if at all, to a broad range of shops.”

From the same report:

“Developers vote with their dollars and energy, and both our data and continuing conversations with clients suggest they are not yet voting for PaaS products in significant numbers.” While Google App Engine, Windows Azure, and Force.com have gotten some attention, more developers are going with an IaaS offering from Amazon Web Services or simply forgoing the cloud route altogether, the researchers note.

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