In the big picture of software development and computing, Platform-as-a-Service is still in its infancy. But because it is tied to “the cloud,” people seem to think it’s older than it really is.
PaaS confuses people and fills them with fear of vendor lock-in because the early platforms are tied to specific infrastructures. The overwhelming majority of people using the Force.com platform, for instance, are those working with Salesforce’s CRM system.
(Related: Which PaaS is for you?)
The only alternative up until now has been the private cloud, which allays fears of security that comes up short and of the vendor lock-in issue. Unfortunately, it doesn’t scale, and the economic benefits of a true cloud solution have yet to be proven internally.
So, just where does this leave PaaS going forward? According to Ben Grubin at Boston-based Cloud Technology Partners, a truly effective PaaS is like what the .NET Framework is to C#: You can write the code yourself in C#, or you can take advantage of the broader framework, with the ability to reuse software components between apps and to integrate with outside resources and services. “It becomes a migration target more than what Force.com was,” he said. “There’s no ‘Write your app for MY platform.’ ”
Amazon is the cloud leader because it has executed this exact strategy perfectly. You can use Amazon Web Services in your applications—which can be reused in other applications—or choose from a host of integrations. “They are offering phenomenal service and they’re dominating the market, but not in a way that locks you in,” said Grubin.