Like Gartner’s Eric Knipp said this week, “Large enterprises are very interested in the PaaS value proposition,” and he goes on to highlight a number of reasons for resistance of public PaaS implementation. Public or private, we all agree that many clouds, hybrid or otherwise, will exist; the roots of these clouds should sit on a next gen platform built to be enterprise grade.
If it isn’t immediately obvious, gross confusion exists in the PaaS space, especially for the enterprise buyer. As a means to provide clarity, and clearly categorize the vendor landscape, we’ve developed the “State of PaaS Analysis” for your education benefit.
As you can see from the diagram below, this is not based on identifying a “leader” in the space. It points to the critical elements that enterprises consider when evaluating PaaS – both public and private – and what platforms can handle certain workloads and runtimes.
Like any major shift in a next gen platform, PaaS will come in all forms. The result is the following categorization of the PaaS landscape today, and below is the descriptions of what this chart means and why it’s valuable to review enterprise PaaS in this manner.
Confusion in the PaaS market is due to vendors not clearly articulating what they do, who they service and enterprise buyers not having a clear set of guidelines to properly evaluate PaaS. Add to this that, every so often, some new vendor claims to have a “PaaS” and that they focus on the “enterprise,” when neither is true. This is to be expected, given the popularity of the space and the increasing interest from enterprise buyers. In order for a space to mature, however, some of the ambiguity needs to be resolved.
Ultimately, any false “enterprise PaaS” categorization only harms the customer, and results in a diluted exit for the startup. On the contrary, large PaaS vendors that emerge without clarity, but will try to keep a steady footing in existing enterprise accounts, will only be able to skim the surface in innovation and functions that enterprises need NOW.
Here is how we defined a set of attributes that can be used to size-up different types of PaaS. A quick survey of the field shows three types of PaaS:
Each of these PaaS categories are defined by 6 key qualities:
Plotting these six qualities against our three PaaS Categories gives us a framework to define requirements based on the constraints of each category:
Need an enterprise PaaS?
It’s likely the case that whatever technology you choose needs to satisfy these basic requirements to be considered a viable option. Anything less won’t satisfy the requirements, and anything more will be using a Howitzer to go pheasant hunting (imagine, for example, deploying an enterprise grade PaaS for building a salesforce.com widget).
What we’ve found in practice is that two criteria have a tremendous impact on the applicability of a PaaS in the enterprise: a PaaS’ deployment format and the workload types it supports (zooming in on complexity of application architectures). If we plot vendors against these two dimensions, we arrive at a landscape that looks like the first diagram in this post.
Clearly, non-enterprise use cases are better served by appropriate models. Like Gartner said, private PaaS, like anything else, should be governed by the “right tool for the job” mentality. If you’re an enterprise considering private PaaS, understanding these high level criteria and landscapes will help in your assessment of the space.