What you need to know about PaaS
By Bernard Golden, CEO, HyperStratus 12-Sep-2011
Cloud computing discussions invariably begin with the "IPS" taxonomy: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service. This taxonomy has the virtue of being comprehensible and neatly partitioning assessment requirements:
• Want an application? Look to a SaaS provider for a single purpose application (HR, financials, printing, etc.)
• Want to write your own application? Look to an IaaS provider that lets you create your own custom application.
• Want to understand the concept of leveraging someone else's software smarts to manage the plumbing while you focus on application functionality? Then look at something like Google App Engine to get an idea of what PaaS could be.
This latter category was always kind of an afterthought because it lacked very strong entrants. However, that's changing--big time. I wrote about this a few weeks ago in my blog, where I noted "PaaS is where it's at."
Cloud providers of every stripe are converging on what will be the development battleground of tomorrow--PaaS. They've clearly identified this as a crucial market--one in which the victors will enjoy huge spoils. It's also a market that will present significant challenges to users.
The evidence of this convergence is all around us. Amazon, by far the most successful IaaS provider, has steadily been surrounding its core services with additional functionality that, while not announced as "platform," has the undeniable effect of providing a set of services that help build applications faster and manage collections of resources easier. Think RDS for managing and scaling databases; direct connect for securing external application access; virtual private cloud to segregate applications within AWS (Amazon Web Services) data centers; and CloudFormation for application management.
At last week's Dreamforce event, Salesforce outlined its PaaS offering based on the recent acquisition of Heroku. While once a Ruby on Rails-oriented offering, Heroku has been extended to support Java. It's also been integrated with Salesforce's Database.com. And it's supported by the Database Rights Option, which integrates on-premise data with Salesforce applications. Salesforce may call it "the social enterprise," but the collective offering is clearly aimed at providing a generalized platform for application development.