While there’s still a lot of uncertainty about the viability of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings as a distinct market apart from infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), there is no doubt that PaaS technologies are becoming more accessible in the cloud with each passing day.
The latest example is CloudBees, which this week announced that it has struck a deal under which its PaaS offering for Java applications will be made available on the Verizon cloud. That offering complements existing implementations of the CloudBees PaaS that can be found on Amazon Web Services, the Google App Engine and Cloud Foundry clouds.
Slowly but surely, PaaS offerings are manifesting themselves all across the cloud. Each instance provides developers with access to platforms that abstract away much of the middleware that developers used to have to master before building and deploying an application. Each PaaS offering has processes that are unique to that environment, but the end benefit is that developers should be able to not only bring applications to market faster, but also to participate in application ecosystems that will emerge around various PaaS environments.
Rather than focusing as much on selling PaaS directly, CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey says alliances with cloud service providers such as Verizon allows CloudBees to take advantage of a sales force that has a lot of experience selling cloud services into the enterprise. In contrast, previous cloud agreements have been focused on simply making CloudBees available on public clouds. Verizon, in particular, is noteworthy because it is in the middle of beta testing a cloud service based on servers from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) that allows it to guarantee levels of service for each virtual machine instance running on its cloud.
The lock-in capabilities of any given PaaS environment are relatively weak compared to cloud APIs, Labourey says. That means writing applications to a PaaS tends to give developers more freedom to move applications between different cloud services that support that PaaS environment.
The more immediate challenge is that enterprise IT organizations have yet to make a mass migration to PaaS. Independent software vendors on public cloud services account for most PaaS usage today. The degree to which traditional enterprise IT organizations will embrace PaaS will be closely related to the pace at which private cloud computing is embraced by IT organizations, either running on their own on-premise system or on clouds supported by providers such as Verizon.
In the meantime, the good news for developers is that even though PaaS is an emerging technology, there is no shortage of PaaS options in or out of the cloud.