Some analysts are not as excited about PaaS as they were when it was introduced, but PaaS is here to stay and to thrive.

Simple Cloud GraphicA few of years ago analysts predicted that by 2015 most companies would have adopted Cloud computing and, more specifically, Platform as a Service (PaaS).
Now, half way through 2015 some have been lamenting that the adoption of PaaS has not been as prominent as expected and it is not clear exactly why.

Any concerns that businesses may have about migration to the cloud have certainly not changed enough since 2010 to offset its benefits, but culture can be a major enthusiasm dampener.
Companies may fear costs and lock-in, they don’t want to give up perceived control over their systems, even if that control is never worth its associated complexity, and naturally sys admins don’t want to work themselves out of a job.

Maybe we need a culture shift before companies will fully embrace PaaS.
Or maybe one could reasonably argue that the original expectations (or rather speculations) were over-enthusiastic.

Some, (like Jon Evans in Tech Crunch) were hoping that PaaS would immediately enable a write once, run anywhere (WORA) set of tools.
The ability to write code that would run universally on any platform has long been a dream goal for developers and it is easy to see why there would be much excitement about it, but this is not specific to PaaS. Indeed, one of the major subjects of discussion of the last decade has been how to create a multi-platform development kit that would allow the creation of mobile apps that can seamlessly run on Android, iOS or any other platform without changes to its code!

I am not saying that WORA will not happen, but realistically, it is going to take some time and it would be a mistake to assume that WORA is the driving element and the litmus test for the success of PaaS and of cloud computing in general.

In the meantime, in a recent white paper, Ericson argues that a new era of PaaS is required.

“A platform approach must be designed to take the best elements of PaaS for empowering developer speed, in combination with the best elements of dynamic enterprise policy control for IT operational governance.”
In other words, a tightly managed and highly controlled cloud — a hybrid cloud, that is.
They go on to state that, as developers, their IT bosses, and their businesses get comfortable with the idea of PaaS, enterprises will gradually embrace it.

I agree with this last statement and I would argue that the adoption of PaaS is actually moving at a healthy rate, (as it is for IaaS) and that its future is bright.
Cloud computing itself has evolved and has become quite commonplace and the best way to encourage new business to embrace it, is by offering them solid and secure technology with the flexibility to choose the combination of capabilities that best suits their needs.

The more successful vendors will be the ones that can offer customizable blends of IaaS, PaaS and even SaaS.

Many new players, some smaller and more nimble than Amazon or Microsoft, have entered this field and are bringing much creativity and innovation.
This is in turn attracting more and more companies to migrate to the cloud.

According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle of 2015, Cloud Computing has now reached the level of maturity that allows for progress and a productive phase, having passed a first phase of media hype and exaggerated expectations.
This does not mean that all the problems have been solved, but that the industry is mature enough to address them.

Gartner Hype Cycle 2015

Cloud technology developers have been investing billions in Cloud R&D, technology is mature, strong and solid, while at the same time companies are getting ready to migrate.

Let’s take a look at another graph from Gartner, this time the recently released Magic Quadrant for Cloud infrastructure as a service.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud


It is not a surprise to see Amazon at the top of the leaders’ quadrant, followed with a certain distance by Microsoft. It is also not a surprise to see that there are no challengers.

It is similarly not surprising to see that there is a group of visionaries with a great potential
to change market rules and provide interesting solutions. CenturyLink is leading this group, very close to Google, with both companies leaving IBM behind.

Indeed, PaaS is doing very well (and so is IaaS), just not the way we imagined it a few years ago. The landscape may be different and it is very likely to change even more, but that is the magic of innovation. It is not always predictable.