The PaaS market accelerates

Alex Handy
January 6, 2012 —  (Page 3 of 3)

Eggs in one basket
All these new offerings have a lot in common with one another, at least when it comes to where they're hosted. Engine Yard and Heroku, for example, have long held no infrastructure of their own. Their platforms have been hosted in Amazon's EC2, yielding the benefits and cost savings for both themselves and their customers. But putting all your eggs in the Amazon basket can be a frightening proposition, especially considering the AWS outage that occurred earlier this year. That's why most PaaS companies are looking to host in other clouds as well.

But Piech said this danger is not as perilous as it may sound. “Calling it a danger is probably a little more extreme than we'd characterize it. Given that Amazon is the most advanced infrastructure-as-a-service out there, it remains the right choice if you're going to build your own stack on a service," he said.

"In Engine Yard's roots, we started that way. I would call it non-zero risk there. Today we have an alternative infrastructure we run on Terremark/Verizon, and we are looking at who number three is going to be. We're involved in OpenStack. Through our Fog efforts, we've put work into abstracting and standardizing touch points between PaaS and IaaS. We're having conversations with a number of the obvious other players in the markets. It's fair to say in the next couple quarters there will be some significant moves there."

And again, despite the cries of Heroku, this is another area where private cloud offerings become appealing. For enterprises that already maintain and run their own data centers, private PaaS is appealing as a way to simplify application fabric within that data center. And for those enterprises, said Kim Weins, senior vice president of marketing at OpenLogic, said the real key is flexibility.

“OpenLogic's CloudSwing sits in that general open PaaS space," she said. "The biggest difference is really placing that enterprise lens on it. First, we need a customizable platform that companies can get up quickly with default stacks. The second thing enterprises need is the ability to provide controls and management around that, things like managing costs and tracking what they're spending in the cloud, SLAs, monitoring up and down the technology stack from the server level up.

"We provide that complete customizability and provide an end-to-end enterprise solution. The support aspect, for enterprises, once they start bringing these applications up in the cloud, they want to be able to get support on those. We've been providing technical support on 600 different open-source packages for the last six years."

And that leads into what many of the PaaS experts we spoke to thought 2012 would be about: support. Jerry Chen, vice president of product management and product marketing at VMware, said he expects next year to be more about targeted vertical PaaS offerings than about the commercialization and enterprise readiness of existing PaaS offerings.

“If you think going forward, one of the trends you'll see will be solution-focused offerings or vertical offerings. There will be a mobile PaaS, a financial services PaaS, or a healthcare PaaS," he said.

"They'll combine that with data and services that enterprises want. If you go down deep on financial services, they want a large database with real-time data feeds. The core offering should be a common open PaaS, with solutions and services specialized on top."

And with those verticals comes the requirement for support and SLAs. Red Hat's Roth said that service and support offerings around PaaS will be the biggest trend for 2012.

“The first big trend is supportable commercial-grade offerings," he said. "The reason everyone’s taken so long to do it is because you're going to give someone a service-level agreement, you're going to take care of security, etc.

“These are giant stacks that go very deep. It's one thing to grab Tomcat off of the Internet, put a UI on it and say, 'We've got a PaaS.' But when you go 'OK, I have to be able to update security on everything and make changes and fix holes,' it's a lot of work. There's a lot of operational stuff that has to be put in place. Some PaaS vendors are going to have to change what they use in the stack when they commercialize, because they've got to support it.”

Related Search Term(s): AppFog, Heroku, PaaS, Red Hat, VMware, Cloud Foundry

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