All these announcements came when the PaaS market was already a crowded field. Major IaaS and SaaS providers are already in this market. Salesforce.com, for example, has one of the strongest PaaS plays with its Force.com PaaS. It's a lightweight application development platform that is meant to be a tool for building business process apps - like those for an HR department - that integrate with customer data that's already in Salesforce.com's cloud, primarily its popular namesake CRM tool. For more technical developers, Salesforce.com bought Heroku, which is another application development platform.
Big IaaS companies are considering a play in this market as well. Amazon Web Services, the leading IaaS provider has PaaS-like features for its cloud, but has come short of offering a full-fledged PaaS. The company is hosting its second annual customer conference this week in Las Vegas named re:Invent and there is expected to be news from the company. But, it already has features like an array of software development kits (SDK), and Elastic BeanStalk, among other tools, which help customers automate the deployment of applications on AWS infrastructure. Microsoft and Google began their cloud offerings with PaaSs (Microsoft with Azure and Google with App Engine), then expanded into the IaaS market.
A variety of private cloud PaaS that run on a customer's premises are in the market as well, and many are focused on specific development languages. These include .Net development platform Apprenda, Java-focused CloudBees, EngineYard for Ruby on Rails apps.
Recently, momentum in this market has only accelerated. Rackspace's introduction of Project Solum marks the third major open source PaaS on the market, behind OpenShift and Cloud Foundry. Solum has been met with mixed reactions in the market thus far, but the project is still in its very earliest stages.
Verizon's announcement of the company backing Cloud Foundry adds to the impressive list of backers CF has brought on board in recent months. Pivotal has big plans for using CF in its offering as well, and is stepping up its marketing of Cloud Foundry -- it took out a full page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal this week, for example. In what seems to be a back and forth between the CF and Red Hat OpenShift communities, OpenShift has rebutted some of those moves by CF by announcing partnership with containerization project Docker, and price reductions to its offering.
Even as all this is happening, some question the long-term viability of the PaaS market and where all these offerings will eventually end up. North Bridge Venture Capital Partner Michael Skok, for example, has spoken about a "PaaS Squeeze" in which the PaaS market is becoming dominated by IaaS vendors offering application development tools to run apps on their clouds, and SaaS vendors offering PaaS-like capabilities to build new apps that integrate with their existing SaaS programs. That could squeeze out pure-play PaaS providers like the private PaaS ones. Verizon's move to cozy up with CF could be the beginning of another IaaS/PaaS blend.
Whatever happens with the PaaS market, it's clear that it is one of the hottest areas in the cloud right now.