IT world | January 2, 2014

The private option brings PaaS back to the forefront

Over the past few months, platform as a service has been one of the hottest topics in the cloud market.

That struck me as curious given that there was loads of buzz around PaaS a couple years ago – Microsoft’s Azure, after all, launched way back in 2008 — but then came a long stretch of relative quiet on the topic. Now we have Red Hat’s OpenShift public cloud which became commercially available in June, the launch of Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry distribution in mid November and the creation of Project Solum in OpenStack in November.

I predict that PaaS will continue to be a hot topic into 2014.

I reached out to a couple of experts to ask what they think is behind the renewed interest in PaaS.

“It started with a public-only option and I think that did an amazing job with educating the market,” said Sinclair Schuller, CEO of Apprenda. “There was a lot of excitement around PaaS, but [public PaaS] is not practical for the enterprise.”

“Public PaaS educated developers and then real world constraints came into play and that created a demand for private PaaS,” he said.

Many enterprises worry about legal, security and performance issues – real or imagined – around the public cloud and so won’t use public PaaS. It took some time but businesses responded and have now come out with more options designed to meet customer demands.

Time has also allowed products and services to mature, said Karen Tegan Padir, CTO of Progress. “I think there weren’t good offerings,” she said, when asked why the lull between the initial buzz around PaaS and now.

Progress offers its Pacific PaaS as a public cloud, run on Amazon Web Services, or as a platform that customers can run internally or anywhere they like.

Apprenda offers a private PaaS platform that users can run anywhere. But it also has a hybrid setup that lets customers use internal or external resources.

“The end state is hybrid,” Schuller said. “A lot of workloads will move to the public cloud. I don’t know if it’ll be 10 percent or 50 percent, but a lot will.”

Whether public or private, analysts agree that PaaS is set to grow. IDC recently predicted that globally, the market for PaaS will grow from $3.8 billion last year to $14 billion in 2017. That’s a 30 percent compounded annual growth rate.

IDC credits Azure in part for helping the market take off. Acceptance of and market penetration of Azure is helping to drive acceptance of PaaS, the researchers said.

In 2014, I expect even more activity in the PaaS market, as customers converge around certain options, leading to market consolidation.