PaaS has evolved quickly...and will continue to do so

Laurent Lachal, Senior Analyst, Ovum Software

PaaS is a multi-faceted phenomenon that has been evolving very rapidly in the past five years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Enterprises should get ready to anticipate and take advantage of new PaaS developments. To do so, they should ask vendors some hard questions about strategy plans and product roadmaps. For more information, see the Ovum report PaaS: Two More Years of Confusion Ahead.

PaaS has quickly evolved in the past few years

Today’s PaaS is quite different from that of yesterday, and this can cause confusion. Its rapid evolution has so far partly reflected the evolution of the overall cloud computing market. PaaS has, for example, evolved from a focus on public clouds to private and hybrid clouds, from green-field to legacy applications, and from being packaged with its own infrastructure services to supporting third-party (mostly IaaS) services.

Some of this evolution, however, is PaaS-specific. For example, PaaS is evolving from monolithic to modular offerings, from providing application building blocks (ingredients) to providing more comprehensive application frameworks (ready-mix offerings), and from supporting one or a small subset of languages, such as Java or PHP, to becoming a polyglot platform that supports a wide number of development languages.

Some trends are both generic and specific. For example, the shift in the PaaS market from a focus on database-as-a-service (DBaaS), application PaaS (aPaaS), and integration PaaS (iPaaS) to Big Data and mobile PaaS (mostly known as mobile back-end-as-a-service or M/BaaS) reflects the overall cloud market shift from a focus on cloud computing itself to the applications that cloud computing underpins. The shift to Big Data also reflects cloud computing’s expansion from software to data.

PaaS will continue to evolve quickly

The market will remain confused as PaaS continues to evolve quickly over the next two to five years. This also partly reflects the evolution of the overall cloud computing market.

For example, as PaaS becomes increasingly modular and reaches out to third-party cloud services, PaaS service providers will also, at least partly, turn into PaaS service brokers, feeding the rise of cloud brokers, and gradually helping developers to deal with APIs, not just applications, in turn feeding the rise of the API economy.

Similarly, within two years, most PaaS offerings will offer a good choice of ecosystem services. Currently, most either do not offer any or their portfolio of ecosystem services is limited in breadth and/or depth.

Ecosystem services include marketplace, business-enablement, and community services. Marketplace services enable developers to advertise and sell their PaaS-run applications. Business-enablement services enable them to manage user accounts, send bills, and receive payment. Community services underpin interactions within and between PaaS application user and vendor communities via a variety of mechanisms such as reviews, tagging, wikis, social networks, and (support) forums.

Some of this evolution will remain PaaS-specific. PaaS offerings will mature and expand the depth and breadth of their features. For example, as part of the expansion of the scope of their ecosystem services, in the next two years PaaS offerings will increasingly provide not only business-level services but also application-level ecosystem services.

Open Source PaaS projects (Cloud Foundry, OpenShift, and Apache Stratos) will become mainstream. It will take a least five years for the market to consolidate around a smaller number of large players, while niche providers will increasingly focus on vertical, geographic, and/or functional niches. However, it will only take two years for it to shift its focus from asking “what is PaaS?” to “how do I make the best of it?”

In the meantime, early adopters will shift from a focus on understanding and evaluating PaaS to optimizing their use of it.

laurent.lachal@ovum.com

Further reading

  • PaaS: A 360-Degree View, IT017-004189 (October 2013)
  • PaaS: Two More Years of Confusion Ahead, IT017-004190 (October 2013)
  • PaaS: An Expanding Marketplace, IT017-004191 (October 2013)
  • PaaS: Ecosystem Not Just Runtime Services Needed, IT017-004192 (October 2013)
  • PaaS: Increasingly Abstracted and Multi-tenant Design, IT017-004193 (October 2013)
  • PaaS: Increasingly Modular Architecture, IT017-004194 (October 2013)
  • PaaS and DevOps: A Multi-faceted Relationship, IT017-004195 (October 2013)
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