Industry research firm Gartner has proclaimed 2011 to be ‘the year of Platform as a Service.’ PaaS or platform-as-a-service providers offer a cloud environment for clients to use as an application platform, along with on-demand hardware and pay-as-you-need infrastructure. According to Yefim Natis, analyst at Gartner, ‘By 2015, cloud platform experience will be a listed or demanded skill in most hiring decisions by IT software projects.’
The past year has seen many small and big enterprises launching PaaS services. While early PaaS platform vendors such as Heroku (now under salesforce.com’s umbrella) and Google App Engine have grabbed market share in the enterprise space, big middleware providers are also joining the party – Oracle, IBM, TIBCO, Red Hat, VMware, and Progress. Most of their PaaS solutions will be out in 2012 so we can look forward to some interesting trends this year.
For one, the competition will be intense. While smaller PaaS vendors offer a number of benefits such as low price, agility, innovation and personalized experience, larger vendors have the advantage of industry experience and an established reputation. Some enterprises may choose to go with the more mature big vendors. However, small and mid-sized businesses that are wary of vendor lock-in will want to partner with smaller Java PaaS providers.
Second, a gradual transition in enterprise business models as well as competitive pressure will bring PaaS into the mainstream. According to Forrester Vice President and principal analyst John Rymer, PaaS will come into its prime in between 2012 and 2014. PaaS vendors are also reporting a sharp rise in adoption across enterprises. Heroku saw apps hosted on its platform rise from 100,000 to 800,000 during 2011.
Agile development has become the demand of the day because of a shaky market plagued by a still recovering economy. PaaS supports agility as enterprises do not invest in their own hardware and software. They can scale resources up or down based on the business they expect, and pay according to their consumption.
The fourth trend will see Java PaaS offerings competing with other languages chosen to compensate for the current inadequacies of Java in cloud computing. Java 7 has brought some improvements and Java 8 is expected to bring more capabilities that will enable development of robust cloud applications. Right now though, Java PaaS is in a stage of evolution.
2012 will be a year of tough choices for enterprises. Organizations looking to tie up with a PaaS provider will have to compare prices, capabilities, customer support, and value across the board. With services such as CloudBees offering a complete PaaS environment for developers and hosting service providers, the competition only gets hotter for Java PaaS providers.
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