A couple of years ago many cloud commentators (myself included) were loudly proclaiming that Platform as a Service (PaaS) was the future of the cloud. As we saw it, the higher value that came from moving up the stack and delivering not just virtual infrastructure, but the entire platform upon which developers could deploy and manage applications, was a no brainer. Since that time however the growth of the Docker initiative, and the massive interest in the ecosystem around it, has taken a bit of shine off PaaS. The theory goes that if Docker delivers the greater part of the PaaS proposition, but in a much smaller footprint, why would people still use PaaS?
It seems that analysis is overly simplistic – PaaS vendors are still enjoying good growth and lots of interest in particular, it seem, from enterprises looking to use private PaaS. Gartner analyst Lydia Leong wrote that:
Customers will build private PaaS far more than they’ll build private IaaS going forward.
According to a recent survey by Progress Software of 700 enterprise IT decision-makers, 43% of enterprises are already using PaaS, and 77% plan to invest in PaaS in 2014. It seems PaaS still has legs after all.
One of the better known private PaaS vendors is Apprenda. The company, long a pure-play Microsoft .NET platform, rolled out a Java PaaS a few years ago and seems to be seeing success within large enterprises. It seems to have a particular bent for large financial organizations (perhaps because of the fact that it is headquartered in NYC and hence more attuned to the financial world than the Silicon Valley one). Its high-profile customers include JPMorgan Chase, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen.
Today it has rolled out the latest version of its product which includes expanded Java capabilities. Apprenda is positioning this as a “multiple best of breed” strategy. The company’s deep .NET platform is now augmented by an extended Java offering that includes support for JBoss and pure Tomcat Java servers. Apprenda is pushing the benefits of this best of breed approach. It reminds customers that this isn’t a plug-in with “lowest common denominator functionality.”
The company seems to be setting itself up for a fight with another private PaaS, Red Hat’s OpenShift. In a thinly veiled critique the company wrote that:
“Many of our customers are already enjoying the benefits of Apprenda with their .NET and Java Tomcat application portfolios. These existing customers, as well as prospects evaluating PaaS, have been considering OpenShift to get coverage for their JBoss applications. With Apprenda 5.5, they can seamlessly incorporate those JBoss applications under a single umbrella without the need to integrate multiple solutions. Apprenda is the only enterprise PaaS providing deep coverage of JBoss, Tomcat and .NET applications.”
Features of the latest release, Apprenda 5.5, include:
- Red Hat JBoss: Customers demand a single pane of glass for Java and .NET. Applications configured to deploy on JBoss may also take advantage of the full range of Apprenda benefits, including the API.
- Tomcat 7: Tomcat has the largest market penetration of all application servers. Apprenda is the first enterprise PaaS to offer Tomcat 7 support without additional purchases or proprietary extensions.
- JMX Support: Operations can now empower developers to monitor Java Web application instances using Java Management Extensions JMX.
- Windows 8: Apprenda 5.5 can be deployed on a single-node of Windows 8 without compromising OS or platform features. The ultra-compact installation of Apprenda allows for off-network development.
It will be interesting to see the future of PaaS generally, and Apprenda specifically, within the context of a world enamored with Docker. Watch this space.