Why the PaaS market is not quite what it seems
According to research from Gartner, the platform as a service (PaaS) market crossed the $4 billion mark in 2015. Clearly, the growing maturity of PaaS offerings is reflected in its continuing double-digit annual growth with more than 130 vendors across 15 different categories of specialised PaaS services now vying for a piece of the action.
Of course, PaaS was always going to be the next big thing. In 2013, Gartner boldly predicted that by 2017, “75% of new SaaS offerings will be developed using a generally available application PaaS software or service.” With the target date of this prediction only six months away, it’s now clear the thinking was too optimistic for the pace of maturity the PaaS market has experienced, despite its impressive momentum. But that’s not to say that PaaS couldn’t still be the next big thing.
The problem is, like so many industries and companies, delivering value is never as easy as it seems. From my vantage point as chairman of a company that works in the PaaS space, solving the value problem is something we strive to do every day. When PaaS vendors start solving this value problem, companies will finally catch the promise of the space and then, and only then, will customers come flocking.
One of the first big hurdles that stands in the way of the PaaS market rising to its potential is understanding the customer need. This sounds so simple but from my time overseeing Morpheus Data, I’ve witnessed how so few players actually take ample time to do this. Customer needs are diverse, and the challenges are real. At Morpheus Data, our sales team is seeing a definite trend toward CIOs/CTOs who are frustrated with current DevOps offerings. Life doesn’t have to be a series of “no pain, no gain” purchase decisions. PaaS should deliver the gain without the pain.
Common frustrations we often hear include slow provisioning – applications should take minutes, not hours to deploy; cloud lock; broken promises – everyone claims they’re ‘infrastructure and cloud agnostic’, so who actually delivers? – and soaring costs. It’s not uncommon to hear of millions being spent to halfway set up and partially run programs. Think of it – millions spent on software before you know it works; sounds like the early CRM implementations that Salesforce solved, and the current ERP implementations that perhaps only NetSuite has solved.
Complex implementations like Mesosphere, VMware, Cloud Foundry and the many varieties of OpenStack require endless professional services support to install and maintain and are subject to service interruptions and cloud lock. To illustrate a specific pain point, Morpheus Data client Spireon, one of the largest mobile resource management companies in the industry, had its DevOps engineers spending months developing Chef scripts to automate the company’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. With Morpheus, Spireon was able to accomplish this in one day and bring everything into a single interface. The ability to promote from dev to test to production in a repeatable fashion is important to any DevOps team, and understanding customer needs is the first step in helping them maintain consistency and achieve value across complex computing environments.
Today’s technology changes daily and it’s not enough for vendors to simply keep up, they need to stay ahead of the curve. Companies are increasingly demanding their IT departments build a culture and work processes that allow them to deploy and manage their business applications with ease across any premise or cloud infrastructure. The companies that navigate this treacherous landscape are the ones that will reap substantial rewards.
The market is progressing and more and more vendors will assure that their offerings seamlessly work on premise and/or with multiple cloud or hybrid environments. Actions speak louder than words – if your POC doesn’t deliver the benefits you were promised, don’t walk, run!