My colleague John Rymer expects platform-as-a-service (PaaS) technology to “cross the chasm” into mainstream status over the next three years (2012-2014). Today, PaaS solutions, which provide application development and deployment tools abstracted from the underlying cloud infrastructure on which they run your apps, fall into four types: 1) Pure cloud integrated development environments (IDEs); 2) Traditional IDEs that offer the option of cloud deployment; 3) IDE-neutral cloud runtimes that can run apps built by multiple types of IDEs; and 4) PaaS solutions designed for use by business developers. John sees all four of these categories aiming to cross the chasm in this timeframe but doesn’t expect all four segments to succeed in making that transition.
Why does this matter? PaaS is one of the easiest and most productive ways to take advantage of cloud economics, and the elasticity of the cloud, by providing an easily consumable elastic app platform. Today, most apps for the cloud either lack the ability to automatically scale up or down in their use of cloud resources, based on demand, or else gain that ability through complex programming to low-level APIs and frameworks. PaaS provides access to the cloud without all the drama. Only through taking full advantage of these attributes of the cloud can your business realize the full benefits the cloud theoretically provides.
Forrester has done quite a number of reports in the last two years around platform-as-a-service (PaaS) from the long-term strategy perspective from me and from the application developer perspective from my friend John R. Rymer. During this time, we saw many different business cases around PaaS. We have predicted and quantified that the major buying power of PaaS will come out of three camps:
ISVs are buying PaaS technology. This is a model that we saw with many ISVs on major platforms that managed to create a viable marketplace such as salesforce.com's AppExchange and Google's marketplace.
Corporate application developers are using PaaS to deploy custom apps and add-ons around SaaS applications. They are doing this significantly faster and at a lower TCO than before.