Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud computing, in which full-fledged application development and deployment capabilities are provided rather than just raw iron and compute cycles such as in Amazon Web Services, is set to gather steam as a deployment option for programmers. But the market is still in start mode, and developers are calling the shots.
Currently, PaaS is a $2.8 billion market, but "it will become over the next 10 years a $10 billion market," says Forrester Research analyst Stefan Ried, who recently published a report on PaaS. Microsoft's Windows Azure and Salesforce.com's Force.com are currently the leading platforms for coders in the fledgling PaaS marketplace, according to Forrester. But the list of contenders is long, ranging from Google App Engine to services from companies such as Caspio, Engine Yard, LongJump, OrangeScape, Tibco, and WaveMakers, Ried says. In defining PaaS, Forrester says it features a complete application platform for multitenant cloud environments, including development tools, runtime and administration, and management tools and services.
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User hails PaaS, but cloud exec not seeing much adoption
WebFilings, a three-year-old company that offers Web-based assistance in filling U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reports, has anchored its business to Google App Engine. "We looked at Google and its strong reputation for security and said, 'Well, instead of us having to manage and maintain all of that platform, we'll count on Google to do that,' and that just removes a layer of complexity and enables us to focus on innovation for our market," says Dan Murray, WebFilings managing director.
But Treb Ryan, CEO at cloud computing services vendor OpSource, has seen underwhelming adoption of PaaS so far: "It's been slow -- much to our surprise, actually." Although OpSource expected development to be the primary driver for PaaS, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) has seen "magnitudes more" adoption, he says. Issues holding back PaaS have included proprietary offerings at the outset and having to rewrite applications. IaaS "is much easier to adopt," Ryan notes, though he expects PaaS platforms to improve and ultimately succeed.