When Platform-as-a-Service began to take shape, back in the days when Ruby on Rails was still new, the primary benefactors were startups. These small firms with no capital to spend on servers found PaaSes to be a great way to save money and still host quality applications reliably. Now that PaaS is for more than just Ruby, however, enterprises have been evaluating the value of both public and private offerings. And while both public and private PaaSes have their benefits, it seems as though only one side of this new conflict is really fighting at all.
Sinclair Schuller, CEO of PaaS provider Apprenda, said that the origins of public PaaS formed the views of what PaaS should be in the minds of enterprises. “You look at public PaaSes like Heroku and Engine Yard; their primary demographic was the independent developer and the Web 2.0 startups,” he said.
“For that class of developer and company, the outsourced value of PaaS is very high. They don’t want to build a server farm, so for them they reap the benefit of not outlaying the capital investments for these resources. That’s very different from the enterprise, where they have all these constraints they’re working with. What happened is, the Herokus and CloudBees [are talking] more to the enterprise, and they’re taking their model and pushing it to the enterprise. That’s why they have a chip on their shoulder.”
In other words, because public PaaS providers are having to now pivot their offerings into enterprise-style services, they’re getting frustrated and framing the public-versus-private discussion as a kind of religious war, said Schuller.
Apprenda and other private PaaS providers push the idea that enterprises cannot simply use public PaaSes due to data storage regulations, as well as the fact that enterprises can derive value from building their own clouds, expensive as they may be. For this reason, private PaaS providers typically pitch their products as a way to bridge the gap between public and private clouds.
Using Apprenda, for example, Schuller said developers can provision systems both internally and in Amazon EC2 from the same control panel. For this reason, Apprenda and other private PaaS providers tend not to view the public/private conflict as a conflict at all.
That’s not to say there are no benefits for enterprises in the public cloud. Indeed, Heroku was initially created to solve the major headaches of hosting a Ruby on Rails application.
Matthew Soldo, senior director of product management at Heroku, said that there are benefits in the public cloud that simply can’t be matched at any enterprise. One such example was the recent discovery of major security vulnerabilities in Ruby on Rails. Instead of telling its customers to patch their software, he said Heroku was able to automate its patching across all customers, before the vulnerability became too widespread.